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France: Cannes Film Festival Opening Night: French Star Power - by Pete Hammond 68th Cannes Film Festival officially opened last night 14 May with the red carpet premiere of Standing Tall (Le tete haute)a stirring drama about the juvenile justice system as seen through the experiences of one kid from age 6 to 18. French legend Catherine Deneuve co-stars and ascended the Palais steps with the rest of cast including knockout newcomer Rod Paradot as the boy and Benoit Magimel. The director of the film, which might be called the darker side of Boyhood, is a woman. Now that might not sound so astounding, but Emmanuelle Bercot is only the second woman to stroll those famous steps as the helmer of the glamorous Cannes opening-night attraction. Initially the fest announced she would be the first but quickly were reminded Diane Kurys had the honor in 1987.

In recent years the festival has been criticized for not having more female directors as part of its Official Selection, so it seems that Cannes and fest honcho Thierry Fremaux are bending over backward to rectify that situation. Not only was Bercot invited to open the party (in an out of competition slot), there are two other female directors — Maiwenn and Valerie Donzelli — with films that are competing for the prized Palme d’Or this year in what often is an all-boys club. Last year’s Jury President, Jane Campion, was the only previous female winner of that top award for 1993’s The Piano. Add to that four other female directors competing in the companion selection, Un Certain Regard, as well as debuting director Natalie Portman with another out of competition entry, A Tale Of Love And Darkness, and you have a pretty impressive Cannes lineup for women — finally. Let’s hope it is the start of a trend and not just an abberation.

Read more: Cannes Film Festival Opening Night: French Star Power | Deadline

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