Women are at the forefront of this year’s jury for the Cannes Film Festival. Jury president Cate Blanchett now heads a lineup that includes A Wrinkle in Time director Ava DuVernay, actors Kristen Stewart and Léa Seydoux, and Blade Runner 2049 director Denis Villeneuve, festival organizers announced Wednesday.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon actor Chang Chen, French filmmaker Robert Guédiguian, Burundian songwriter-composer Khadja Nin, and Russian director Andrey Zvyagintsev will also serve.
It’s a notable shift in gender representation, especially after last year’s events. Jessica Chastain, who had served on a jury headed by Pedro Almodovar, noted how “disturbing” the representation of women was in films screened at Cannes.
“I do believe that if you have female storytelling, you also have more authentic female characters,” she said during a press conference. “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 I saw represented,” she added. “And it was quite disturbing to me, to be honest.”
Cannes artistic director Thierry Fremaux recently told Variety that he has “become much more concerned about the presence of women at the festival” in the last four years. “I’ve been having discussions with intelligent women like Jessica Chastain and have listened to their advice about ways to improve certain things,” Fremaux said. “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.”
Blanchett, after making her comic book movie debut in Thor: Ragnarok, is readying for the release of the female-centric Ocean’s 8.
DuVernay, who’s used her platform to promote inclusion in Hollywood, was the first woman of color to direct a film worth $100 million (A Wrinkle in Time) and she’s heading towards making a New Gods movie for Warner Bros. and DC.
Stewart was last spotted in Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, Seydoux has popped up in James Bond movie Spectre and The Lobster, and Villeneuve is following up the Blade Runner sequel with a reboot of Dune.
Chen’s credits include roles in 2013’s The Grandmaster and 2015’s The Assassin, Guédiguian received praise for his most recent film The House By the Sea, and Zvyagintsev won the Jury Prize for his film Loveless at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival.
Nin — whose music is a mix of pop, African, and Afro-Cuban rhythms — received the Prix de l’Action Feminine (Prize for Feminine Action) by the African Women’s League in 2016.
The 2018 Cannes Film Festival runs from May 8-19.