Competition juror Rebecca Hall and honorary Palme d’Or recipient Forest Whitaker responded to conversations about the lack of diversity in Cannes programming, on the first day of the 75and festival.
Responding to a question at the jury’s press conference about the festival’s efforts to achieve gender and racial diversity, Hall shrugged and said, “I think the jury was well chosen.” The actress and filmmaker, who is of mixed-race heritage, is one of four non-white members of the nine-member jury and one of four women.
Of the 21 films they judge, none are by black filmmakers; five (24%) of which are headed by women.
“It’s extremely difficult to answer that question,” continued Hall, whose feature debut Who passed, centered on a light-skinned African-American woman in 1920s New York who “passes” as a white woman. “It’s a work in progress – it’s not finished. It also needs to be tackled locally [as through festival selection]. It’s about crews, it’s about the details of what’s going on – people who don’t have access to these doors.
“We’re in a better place than we’ve been, but I don’t think it’s done.”
Forest Whitaker also touched on the topic of making more diverse festivals happen during the press conference for his honorary Palme d’Or. “We have to keep shaking the channel and educating people,” Whitaker said. “Right now we see different opportunities with streaming – it allows for more niche markets.”
Filmmakers from underrepresented groups should take control of their projects as much as possible, he said, citing his own significant productions who have made titles such as Ryan Coogler. Fruitvale StationRiley’s Boots sorry to disturb you and that of Hall Who passed. “All the films we’ve done with Significatif – they’ve been produced because of us raising money for them. It’s a model that works for us.
Yesterday, the general delegate Thierry Fremaux defended the lack of diversity of the Cannes 2022 programming, considering that the number of women in Competition was not “so few” and that “the cinema takes time to flourish”.
When it comes to the development of film industries in underrepresented countries, distribution is key. “As long as you can find your distribution channel and you have the skills to make a movie, then it’s possible to tell the stories,” Whitaker said. “The biggest problem is funding distribution – it’s the same problem people have all over the world.”
The American actor-producer has not directed a film since 2004 comedy first daughter, and said he has no plans to reprise the role. “It would have to be a proper story; I’m not saying it won’t happen again, but not now,” Whitaker said.
by Coppola Megalopolis
He also teased his next role in Francis Ford Coppola Megalopoliscalling his share “significant”.
“It looks like we’re going to start filming in August,” Whitaker said. “The story is about the city and the power structures within it – one progressive and one conservative.”