More needs to be done to improve diversity in film
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At the Cannes Film Festival this year, Sofia Coppola won the Best Director award for her film The Beguiled. The last time this was won by a woman (Yuliya Solntseva in 1961), the Berlin Wall was being constructed and the Bay of Pigs was a current event.
While other female directors have won other awards at Cannes over the years, such as Angela Arnold winning the Jury Awards in 2006, 2009 and 2016, only one has ever won the top prize – the Palme d’Or – which was Jane Campion in 1993 for The Piano. This win for Coppola was seen as a positive, if not a long overdue step forward in terms of equality in the film industry, but it is only a tiny part of a larger picture. Jury members Jessica Chastain and Will Smith both discussed their own issues with the characters and stories that they saw over the festival – such as the lack of black characters and minority voices, and questionable representations of women. Why is it that a movement towards an industry that better reflects society seems only able to slowly inch along towards equality and diversity? And why can it only deal with one aspect of diversity at a time? The vital Oscars So White movement rightly pushed back at the criminal lack of black voices at the two previous Academy Awards, leading to a better representation of diversity this year – with Moonlight taking the Best Picture Award. But, yet again, there were no women nominated for Best Director. In my opinion, the movement towards a more diverse and reflective film industry has three different aspects: in front of the camera, behind the camera and representation.
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