Venice film festival under fire over lack of films by women

AFP/The Local
AFP/The Local - [email protected]
Venice film festival under fire over lack of films by women
President of the Venice Biennale, Paolo Baratta (R), awardsDirector Alfonso Cuaron the Golden Lion prize for Best Film at the 75th Venice Film Festival in 2018. Photo: AFP

As Venice gets ready to host the 76th edition of its world-famous film festival, there has been fresh criticism of its lack of films by female directors.


21 films will be vying for the Lion d'Or at this year's Venice Film Festival, although only two by women made the cut.

This, coupled with the presence of controvrsial director Roman Polanski, was too much for some women in the film industry after the lineup was announced on Thursday.

Last year the festival was slammed for its "toxic masculinity" by female members of the film industry after it selected just one film directed by a woman for the second year running.

But Venice Film Festival director Alberto Barbera insisted the festival was representative of the "feminine condition".

"Numerous films this year deal with the theme of the feminine condition in the world which, even when directed by men, reveal a new sensitivity, proof that the scandals of recent years have left their mark on our culture," Barbera said as he presented the lineup in Rome.

Last year, Barbera said he would "rather quit" than give in to pressure for a quota for women after the Cannes, Toronto and Locarno festivals pledged themselves to gender equality

Hotel Excelsior on the Venice Lido, where the annual Film Festival is held. Photo: AFP

Stars including Robert De Niro, Brad Pitt and Scarlett Johansson will attend, organisers said.

The festival will screen Saudi Arabia's Haifaa al-Mansour's "The Perfect Candidate" about a female doctor trying to run in local elections in the conservative kingdom

Australian comedy "Babyteeth" by Shannon Murphy is also competing.

The festival opens on August 28 with Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda's "The Truth", featuring French stars Catherine Deneuve and Juliette Binoche as well as Ethan Hawke.

The film tells the tale of a French cinema star whose decision to publish her memoirs prompts a mother-daughter reunion which turns fiery.

READ ALSO: Venice Biennale shows the human face of architecture

Many US stars and big Hollywood productions feature at the festival, seen by many as a springboard for Oscar success.

Brad Pitt stars in the highly-anticipated "Ada Astra", a science fiction film directed by James Gray about an astronaut travelling the solar system in search of his father.

Robert de Niro will attend the premier of "Joker", directed by Todd Phillips and tracing the origins of Batman's famous enemy, with the grimacing superclown played by Joaquin Phoenix.

Steven Soderbergh's "The Laundromat" will also be shown, a thriller about the Panama Papers investigation starring Antonio Banderas, Gary Oldman and Meryl Streep.

The most controversial entry is of course Franco-Polish director Roman Polanski's "J'accuse" about France's 19th century Dreyfus scandal, starring Jean Dujardin.

Polanski fled to France in 1978 after admitting the statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl in the US.

The 85-year-old has been living in the country ever since as a fugitive from the US justice system, despite repeated attempts to have him extradited. 

The festival closes on September 7 with Italian director Giuseppe Capotondi's "The Burnt Orange Heresy" starring Mick Jagger and Donald Sutherland, screened out of competition.

READ ALSO: Where to catch outdoor cinema in Italy this summer


Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

Anonymous 2019/08/10 12:40
Is it just possible that the films submitted by women just weren't any good? Just a thought.

See Also