By SAMUEL PETREQUIN, AP Sports Writer
PARIS (AP) — The director of the Cannes Film Festival called the Harvey Weinstein “an earthquake” — but he said that the quality of films, not gender quotas, remains the top factor in selecting movies for this year’s festival lineup.
Organizers unveiled Thursday the 18 movies competing for the Palme d’Or next month, with a lineup that includes new movies by Spike Lee and Jean-Luc Godard.
“The world is not the same anymore,” Thierry Fremaux told a press conference, referring to the aftermath of the Weintsein scandal. “But the movies we selected have been chosen for their intrinsic qualities. There will never be a positive discrimination.”
Although Fremaux said he recognized the importance of the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements, he said the selection process for the festival should not include gender quotas, and that all the female directors he spoke with recently agreed with him.
Only three female directors — Nadine Labaki, Alice Rohrwacher and Eva Husson — are included in the list of 18 competing movies. Fremaux said a fourth female film maker could be added to the competition before the May 8-19 event starts on the French Riviera.
“It’s true that they are very rare, but there are more and more female directors,” Fremaux said. “And I have to say that —Kathryn Bigelow aside — all the female directors who broke through over the last three decades came here to show their movies.”
Fremaux added that his team will discuss their pay equality practices. He noted that more women than men already worked for the festival.
While pointing out that only one female director has won the festival’s top prize — Jane Campion for “The Piano” back in 1993 — Fremaux said that two women, Cate Blanchett and Ursula Meier, will preside over the official competition and Golden Camera juries this year.
He said this year’s selection, which also includes Oscar-winning director Pawel Pawlikowski’s new film “Zimna Wojna” (Cold War), will help promote new faces.
“There are some people one might not have expected to be there,” he said.
Among those invited to compete are Iranian film director Jafar Panahi — with “Three Faces” — and Russian film maker Kirill Serebrennikov. Panahi was held in custody in 2010 for his criticism of Iran, while Serebrennikov has been placed under house arrest.
Lee’s “BlacKkKlansman” will open in theaters on Aug. 10 — the one-year anniversary of the violent protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, where white nationalists marched and a protester was killed.
The film is about the real-life story of Ron Stallworth, a black police officer in Colorado who went undercover in 1978 to infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan. John David Washington plays Stallworth in the film and Adam Driver plays his partner.
Godard’s movie “Le Livre d’Image” (The Image Book) is described as a “revolutionary song in five chapters.”
Fremaux also addressed the festival’s tense relationships with Netflix a day after Ted Sarandos, the company’s chief content officer, said the streaming giant was pulling its films from the festival.
Cannes earlier banned any films without theatrical distribution in France from its Palme d’Or competition, essentially ruling out Netflix movies. In France, films can’t be released on home entertainment platforms until 36 months after their theatrical release.
“Despite appearances, we have a fruitful dialogue, Netflix is welcome in Cannes, let’s keep talking,” Fremaux said. He however rued that their dispute prevented the restoration of Orson Welles’ unfinished movie “The Other Side of The Wind” from being included in the festival’s out-of-competition program this year.