Kristen Stewart is the latest addition to the Cannes Film Festival’s fist majority female competition jury since 2014.
A Wrinkle in Time director Ava DuVernay was also confirmed as a jury member on Wednesday. The duo will join previously announced jurors Léa Seydoux, musician Khadja Nin and Cate Blanchett, who will serve as this year’s jury president.
Blade Runner 2049 director Denis Villeneuve, director Andrey Zvyagintsev, French filmmaker Robert Guédiguian and Chinese actor Chang Chen will also serve as jurors.
The festival’s first majority female jury in four years comes after the festival was widely criticized for its lack of women directors in official competition last year. This year, just three out of 17 films competing for the Palme d’Or, the festival’s top prize, were directed by women.
“For the last four years, I’ve become much more concerned about the presence of women at the festival,” festival director Thierry Frémaux told Variety last week.
“I’ve been having discussions with intelligent women like Jessica Chastain and have listened to their advice about ways to improve certain things. We’ve started paying more attention to the gender ratio on our selection committees, for instance. Right now, two out of the three committees have as many women as men,” he said.
Chastain, who was on last year’s jury, criticized the way women were represented at the festival at the time. “This is the first time I’ve watched 20 films in 10 days, and I love movies. And the one thing I really took away from this experience is how the world views women from the female characters that were represented. It was quite disturbing to me, to be honest – with some exceptions,” she told The Guardian.
“I hope when we include female storytellers they will be more like the women I know in my day-to-day life. They are proactive, have their own point of view and don’t just react to men around them,” she added.
In the festival’s 70-year history, only one woman, director Jane Campion, has won the Palme d’Or, a fact she herself told Vulture is “insane.”
The Cannes Film Festival opens May 8.