PARIS: The physical version of this yearâ€™s Cannes Film
Festival may have been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but
on June 3, Thierry FrÃ©maux, the Festivalâ€™s General Delegate,
released its Official Selection of 56 shortlisted movies, each of
which will receive a Cannes 2020 endorsement label to encourage
their promotion on release.
â€œNo one knows what the second half of the year may bring and
whether it will be possible to organize major film events again in
2020, including the Festival de Cannes,â€ said FrÃ©maux. â€œCannes
has therefore decided to adapt its format for this peculiar
Of the record 2,067 Cannes Film Festival submissions, 532 of the
movies were made by female directors, and of the 56 selected
movies, 16 are by women. While this is a long way from the goal of
Collectif 50/50 â€” the association for gender equality and
diversity in cinema launched in 2018 â€” itâ€™s a good start.
Three of those 16 shortlisted female directors have Arabic
heritage; Danielle Arbid from Lebanon, Ayten Amin from Egypt, and
French-Algerian director MaÃ¯wenn. All three explore facets of
female identity, sexuality, and adolescence and family
â€˜Passion Simpleâ€™ by Danielle Arbid
Danielle Arbid is a Lebanese filmmaker. (Supplied)
Lebanese filmmaker Danielle Arbidâ€™s fourth feature is based on
a 1992 novel by Annie Ernaux. It stars French actress Laetitia
Dosch and Russian-Ukrainian former ballet dancer Sergei Polunin in
the leading roles. Dosch plays a reclusive academic who has a
highly-charged affair with a Russian diplomat (Polunin), with a
narrative that follows her journal entries as her whole existence
focuses on their next erotic rendez-vous. After â€œParisienne, Peur
de Rienâ€ (2016), â€œBeirut Hotelâ€ (2011) and â€œUn Homme
Perduâ€ (2007), this is the first of Arbidâ€™s films without an
obvious link to Lebanon.
â€œMaybe this is because Iâ€™ve been living in Paris for 30
years and I finally consider myself as French as Lebanese,â€ Arbid
told Arab News. â€œIâ€™ve been making films long before the whole
#metoo movement. I donâ€™t believe there is a feminine or a
masculine cinema, but I am really happy that women are finally
being taken into consideration. No one helped me professionally
because of my Lebanese origins or because I am a woman â€”
certainly not in Lebanon, where most of my work is censored, or in
the Arab world. Being a woman hasnâ€™t proved a hindrance in
filmmaking. The female representation at Cannes is still not
entirely satisfactory, but at last weâ€™re moving in the right
â€˜Souadâ€™ directed by Ayten Amin and Mahmoud
â€˜Souadâ€™ is directed by Ayten Amin and Mahmoud Ezzat.
Ayten Aminâ€™s second feature â€” co-directed by Mahmoud Ezzat
â€” focuses on Souad and Rabab, teenager sisters of an
ultra-conservative family. Nineteen-year-old Souad leads a secret
life on social media. When Souad commits suicide, 12-year-old Rabab
travels to Alexandria to find Ahmed, the key figure in Souadâ€™s
online life, seeking answers to her death.
â€œCinema is difficult for both men and women in Egypt, but I
have to admit that itâ€™s a lot more difficult for women,â€ Amin
told Arab News. â€œI have to prove myself every time, as though
every project is my first. Iâ€™ve had more successes than several
of my male colleagues, but theyâ€™ve had more opportunities than me
and â€” despite my track record â€” theyâ€™re much better paid. So,
I guess being a woman in cinema is definitely a hindrance. Cinema
is male-dominated everywhere. However, Iâ€™m always on the side of
a good film regardless of gender. In making â€˜Souad,â€™ I was
supported by my friend, Sameh Awad, who became its producer because
he was enthusiastic about it, even though he isnâ€™t involved in
What does she need to redress the balance?
â€œI need public funding to support cinema in Egypt, as well as
European funding. We need to start assessing projects in the Middle
East according to the talent and artistic values of the films, and
not just as hot topics to serve the European point of view of Arab
â€˜DNAâ€™ by MaÃ¯wenn
MaÃ¯wenn has now made six feature films. (AFP)
Franco-Algerian filmmaker and actor MaÃ¯wenn is no stranger to
moviemaking. Her actress mother, Catherine Belkhodja, brought her
to castings from the age of three. â€œMy mother only loved me on
the silver screen,â€ MaÃ¯wenn told Arab News.
When she was 15, MaÃ¯wenn met director Luc Besson, 31, at the
CÃ©sar Awards ceremony. A year later, they married and moved to LA.
They split in 1998 after Besson began a relationship with Milla
Jovovich, who was playing the lead in his film â€œThe Fifth
Element,â€ in which MaÃ¯wenn also had a role.
In a manifesto she publicized as the #metoo movement gained
traction, MaÃ¯wenn wrote.
â€œI reclaim the right to have power in my work without
frightening men.â€ Her statement ended with, â€œWeâ€™ll get
MaÃ¯wenn has now made six feature films, winning the Prix du
Jury at Cannes for 2011â€™s â€œPolisse,â€ which she also starred
in and wrote. In her latest, â€œDNA,â€ MaÃ¯wenn plays the lead
role of Neige, a woman deeply attached to her Algerian grandfather,
who provided a buffer against her toxic parents. When Emir dies,
tensions escalate between Neigeâ€™s extended family members,
triggering a dramatic identity crisis.
Source: FS – All – Interesting – News
Three Arab female directors make Cannes 2020 official