Sofia Coppola just won Best Director at Cannes for her new film The Beguiled, a feminist remake of the 1971 Clint Eastwood film. Coppola is only the second woman in the history of the French film festival to win this prize. The first woman to win Best Director was Soviet filmmaker Yuliya Solntseva for her 1961 film The Chronicle of Flaming Years.
As Indiewire pointed out, this win is just desserts for Coppola who last competed for the Palme d'Or in 2006 with Marie Antoinette, which was famously booed. To put a fine point on how notable this win is, though, New York Magazine writer Jada Yuan pointed out on Twitter that Coppola is the first woman to win Best Director at Cannes in 56 years.
Coppola was not on hand to pick up her award, but in a pre-written speech she thanked "my father, who taught me about writing and directing and for sharing his love of cinema, and to my mother for encouraging me to be an artist." She also thanked director Jane Campion for “being a role model and supporting women filmmakers.” Campion is still the only woman in Cannes' 70-year history to win the Palme d'Or, the highest honour at Cannes, for 1993's The Piano. It's also an award she shared with Chen Kaige, the male director of Farewell, My Concubine.
It's a record Campion, who was at this year's Cannes with her series Top Of The Lake, wishes she didn't still hold. As she told Vulture earlier this week, "Too long! Twenty-four years! And before that, there was no one. It’s insane." It's also something that Cannes seems to be looking to rectify since this year they included three female directors in the festival lineup. That doesn't sound like a lot, but as The Guardian reported, as recent as 2012 the festival had not even one film by a female director in the competition.
While at Cannes, Kidman, who is in The Beguiled and the new season of Top Of The Lake, told The Sydney Morning Herald that she plans to work with female directors more often. "It’s very much a part of my contribution now, is being able to say, pretty much every 18 months, I’m making a movie with a female director,” she said. "That’s the only way the statistics are going to change— when other women start to say, ‘I’m only going to choose a woman now.’” Last year, a report by USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism found that of the 800 biggest movies released between 2007 and 2015, just 33 (or 4.1%) were directed by women.
Coppola may not have been there to pick up her award, but her Beguiled cast was quick to honour their director. Elle Fanning posted a shot of her embracing Coppola on Instagram, writing in all-caps, "CONGRATULATIONS SOFIA - BEST DIRECTOR CANNES 2017 - ! LOVE YOU SO MUCH !" Kirsten Dunst also shared her congratulations with a screenshot of Cannes announcing Coppola's win. For her caption, she skipped words completely and went with the clapping hands and celebratory champagne being popped emoji.
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