Jessica Chastain publicly called out the Cannes Film Festival this weekend for their dismal portrayal of women while serving as a member of the prestigious film festival's 2017 jury. As a juror, Chastain watched 20 movies in 10 days and summarized her feelings about the work she saw in an impassioned speech she gave during a press conference on Sunday.
Selma director and writer Ava DuVernay tweeted a clip of Chastain's speech from May 28th, which promptly went viral and currently has been retweeted over 20,000 times.
"This is the first time I’ve watched 20 films in 10 days, and I love movies. And the one thing I really took away from this experience is how the world views women from the female characters that were represented," said Chastain. "It was quite disturbing to me, to be honest."
Chastain abstained from calling out any of the films in question by name, and did add that there were "some exceptions." For example, she made these comments after Sofia Coppola won the coveted Best Director award for her film The Beguiled, making her the second woman in the film festival's 71-year history to do so. According to The Guardian, Yuliya Solntseva was the last woman to win the award back in 1961 for her film The Story of the Flaming Years. Although Coppola's win indicates significant progress, it is also a stark reminder of how far women still have to go.
Chastain concluded her impromptu speech by saying, "I hope when we include female storytellers they will be more like the women I know in my day-to-day life. They are proactive, have their own point of view and don’t just react to men around them."
Twitter lauded Jessica Chastain's ability to tell it like it is, even while serving on the jury for such a prestigious festival.
This is not the first time Jessica Chastain has spoken out about the injustices women face in the film industry. In April, she told Variety that she is now refusing to accept roles where she gets paid "a quarter of what the male co-star is being paid" after making a fraction of what her co-star Matt Damon made in The Martian. She has also been vocal about the imbalance between male and female film critics, telling The Guardian that 90% of critics are men.
Earlier this month, Chastain made headlines after chastising actor Johnny Depp for his unprofessional behavior. When someone from the BBC told Chastain that Depp used an earpiece to avoid learning lines, she gifted the world with this epic eye roll:
According to The Guardian, fellow actor and jury member Will Smith also pointed out the sore lack of diversity in the Cannes Film Festival at the same press conference, adding "a couple black folks won’t hurt there either! We’ll talk about that in another time." It is evident that mostly white men still have the strongest hold on Cannes, and Jezebel notes that no woman of color has ever won the best directing award or the Palme d’Or, the festival's highest prize, since its inception in 1946.