On Sunday, Jane Campion was one of many directors honored at the Cannes Film Festival. One of many men, that is, but the one and only woman.
When asked why female directors are so scarce, Campion didn’t mince words:
“I just think this is the way the world is, that men control the money, and they decide who they’re going to give it to.”
Well, that seems true enough. Only 3 of the movies at Cannes this year were directed by women: Marjane Satrapi‘s Persepolis, Naomi Kawase‘s Mogari No Mori, and Catherine Breillat‘s Une Vieille Maitresse. (I’m guessing it will be a while before most of us get to see any of those — if you’re one of the lucky few, give us your review.)
But Campion also seemed to suggest that if women did have control of all the money in the world, they’d share it:
“When I think of what’s fantastic about women, it’s their generosity, their intuitiveness, their capacity to trust emotions, to be emotional, to nurture, to promote peace, to care about the planet’s environment so their children can inherit it,” she said. “Those qualities aren’t sexy for guys, but (they’re) quite natural in women.”
Wait. Nurturing, peace-loving earth mothers? Hmm. That sounds kind of traditional, especially for someone who’s generally considered a feminist director. But I’ll admit that I often have no idea what Campion’s trying to say. I saw Sweetie in the early ’90s and am confused to this day. And although I found The Piano and An Angel at My Table brilliant, I also found them befuddling. Luckily, Campion’s success stands as a feminist achievement, no matter what her films might stand for.
Campion’s next film will examine the romance between John Keats and his “young neighbor,” Fanny Brawne. I wonder who called the shots in that particular pair?