Film Forward

Jessica Chastain Wasn't Happy With The Portrayal Of Women At Cannes, But She Has A Solution

"It was quite disturbing to me, to be honest."

Sofia Coppola may have won Best Director for her female-driven film The Beguiled at this year's Cannes Film Festival, but the struggle for equal representation of women in film — both on screen and behind the camera — is far from over. 

Jessica Chastain, who was a jury member at the festival, used her platform to call out the portrayal of female characters in this year's selection of films. Video of her words at the close of the festival, as shared by director Ava DuVernay, is going viral.

"The one thing I really took away from this experience is how the world views women, from the female characters that I saw represented," Chastain said. "And it was quite disturbing to me, to be honest."

Chastain shared that there were some exceptions, but added that she was mostly "surprised" by how women were depicted in the films she saw. However, she did more than just point out the problem; she also offered a simple solution, which the film industry has unfortunately been slow to implement.

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

In addition to speaking out, Chastain is also doing her part in the industry to make sure women's stories get told on screen. As announced earlier this year, she's producing a television project based on the true story of women striving to be accepted into the space program in the 1960s.

The actress is also serious about being paid fairly compared to her male co-stars, and revealed that she even turned down a big role over the issue. Fellow actresses such as Nicole Kidman are also doing their part to change how the industry treats women. Kidman recently revealed her plan to work with more female directors.

Last year, Chastain shared her response when a director suggested she stop talking about "women stuff" so much. "If someone doesn't want to hire me because they think I'm too vocal, fine," she told IndieWire. "I will do a play, I will always find a job. Let them try to get me out of this industry. I am not going to be silenced!"

Cover image: Featureflash Photo Agency / Shutterstock.com

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