Actress Jessica Chastain was disturbed by the representation of female characters at Cannes Film Festival this year.

Chastain, a member of the 2017 festival’s jury, was witness to 20 of the world’s most acclaimed new movies and noticed a disheartening trend. The Academy Award-nominated actress acknowledged that there were exceptions, but most of the female characters seen at the festival were passive and empty shells of characters. Chastian continued by saying that these characters did not reflect any woman she had ever encountered in real life and that the lack of accurate representation speaks to how the world views women as a whole.

When pressed by reporters if she wanted to see more female filmmakers in the future, Chastain responded with a decisive yes. Chastain went on to say:

I hope that when we include more female storytellers, we will have more of the women I recognize in my day-to-day life. Ones that are proactive, have their own agencies, don’t just react to the men around them. They have their own point of view.

This year’s festival saw Lynne Ramsay co-win the festival’s screenwriting prize for the thriller You Were Never Really Here, and Sofia Coppola win Best Director for The Beguiled. Harking back to Chastain’s call for more female storytellers, Coppola is only the second woman to have won in that category in the festival’s 71-year history.

Prominent women in Hollywood share Chastain’s sentiment, including Selma director, Ava DuVernay and Nicole Kidman. Kidman has vowed to work with female directors more often in an effort to change the statistics and see a more realistic depiction of women in films.  Kidman told the New Zealand Herald: “That’s the only way statistics will chance, when other women start to go, ‘Oh, I’m actually going to choose only a woman now’”.

With more prominent figures in Hollywood speaking on the issue and the strong showing of female filmmakers at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival there is hope that the industry will make room for women storytellers and more accurate depictions of women in films.

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