Marion Cotillard on #MeToo and Motherhood: ‘Sometimes Movies Can Open People's Minds'

Marion Cotillard on #MeToo and Motherhood: ‘Sometimes Movies Can Open People's Minds'

CANNES, France — For the last several years, the Cannes Film Festival has been criticized by feminist film critics and female members of the international film industry for continually underrepresenting women in the competition for the Palme d’Or, the festival’s most coveted prize. In its 71 years, only 82 female-directed films have screened in competition at the fest, compared to 1,645 by men.

CANNES, France — For the last several years, the Cannes Film Festival has been criticized by feminist film critics and female members of the international film industry for continually underrepresenting women in the competition for the Palme d'Or, the festival's most coveted prize. In its 71 years, only 82 female-directed films have screened in competition at the fest, compared to 1,645 by men.

In 2018, as the #MeToo movement exerts an increasing amount of influence, the outrage has reached critical mass. On Saturday, 82 female members of the international film industry, including this year's jury president Cate Blanchett, the legendary French director Agnes Varda, and Marion Cotillard stood on the red-carpeted steps of the festival Palais before the screening of Eva Husson's Girls of the Sun, one of only three films directed by women in the competition.  

Blanchett read the English text of a statement written by Varda, which had the tone of a manifesto: “Women are not a minority in the world, yet the current state of our industry says otherwise… As women, we all face our own unique challenges, but we stand together on these stairs today as a symbol of our determination and commitment to progress.”

It now appears that every female film professional finds herself required to take a stand on gender parity. Cotillard, the star of Vanessa Filho's Angel Face, an entry in this year's Cannes Un Certain Regard sidebar, has not always considered herself an ardent feminist. Several years ago, when asked about her commitment to feminism, she demurred: “I don't qualify myself as a feminist. We need to fight for women's rights but I don't want to separate women from men.”

According to Cotillard, the fact that Angel Face was directed by a woman had little to do with making the story more convincing or empathetic: “I don't think that being a sensitive film director is necessarily a product of being male or female. There are very sensitive male directors and less sensitive women. Vanessa is not a mom; I am. Maybe it would be a different film if it was directed by a father.”

Although critics have viewed Angel Face as a condemnation of its troubled protagonist's behavior, Cotillard herself confesses: “I don't really like to judge people. Sometimes I can't help it, but most of the time I tell myself that I want to understand people as human beings. That's why I'm an actor. Judging doesn't provide any answers or compassion. You just bring to the part what you think is real and true.”

When I point out that audiences might nevertheless condemn Marlène's behavior, she concludes: “Yeah, with movies, audiences are subjective and react according to what they have inside them, their personalities, and how they see things. Of course, sometimes movies can open people's minds.”

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