Women grab Cannes spotlight with disturbing tales

Fri May 13, 2011 8:58am EDT
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By Mike Collett-White

CANNES, France (Reuters) - Female directors, famously shut out of the Cannes film festival's main competition in 2010, dominated the opening of this year's event with dark tales of murder, prostitution, rape and suicide.

Three of four women vying for the coveted Palme d'Or for best picture in Cannes screened their movies to the press in the first two days, and, while dividing critics and varying widely in style, they shared a disturbing vision of the world.

French actress and film maker Maiwenn was the latest woman in competition this year to present her film "Polisse" Friday, a hard-hitting drama about a close-knit team of police officers in the Child Protection Unit (CPU).

She followed Australia's Julia Leigh with her debut feature "Sleeping Beauty," about a student who turns to a strange form of prostitution, and Scotland's Lynne Ramsay with "We Need To Talk About Kevin," about a troubled mother-son relationship.

The last of the quartet is Japan's Naomi Kawase with "Hanezu No Tsuki," her third picture in competition.

Film experts said it was no coincidence that more women were in Cannes' flagship selection this year.

"The increased number of female directors in the Cannes competition reflects a growing trend," said Annette Insdorf, film professor at Columbia University who is in Cannes.

"I don't think it is separable from Kathryn Bigelow's Oscar win for 'The Hurt Locker' or Lisa Cholodenko's critical and commercial success with 'The Kids Are All Right."   Continued...

<p>Director and actress Maiwenn poses during a photocall for the film "Polisse" at the 64th Cannes Film Festival May 13, 2011. REUTERS/Yves Herman</p>