It is no secret that Cannes has had an uneasy relationship with gender parity, responding to the increased demand for diverse films with minor changes. The festival’s director, Thierry Frémaux, came under fire for this at the opening press conference, with his frankly inaccurate claim: “There have never been so many women directors in the official selection because there have never been so many women directors in the industry as a whole.” Cue slow applause. That said, records have been broken on the Croisette this year. There are 25 per cent more female film-makers in main competition than in 2018 and one of them, Mati Diop, became the first black woman to contend for the Palme d'Or. Here, we celebrate some of the best movies from women at Cannes.
Practise your death-drops and prepare a sickening look because the category is New York ballroom realness. Set in Harlem’s underground drag scene (much like the fabulous FX series Pose), Danielle Lessovitz’s Port Authority is an unlikely love story that collides two antithetical worlds, then rummages through the romantic fallout. Fresh from a prison sentence, Paul (Fionn Whitehead) has unquestioningly swallowed the hulking, tattoo-sleeved masculinity of his homeless-shelter comrades. He is forced to reassess his prejudices, however, when he falls for Wye (Leyna Bloom), a member of the drag house of McQueen, and belatedly discovers she is trans. The film’s cast – who indulged in a delightful display of spontaneous voguing on the Cannes red carpet – made history at its premiere, specifically its leading lady. Leyna Bloom became the first transgender woman of colour to headline a movie at the festival, which she describes as a moment that has ”opened [a door] for a lot of people to sit at the table”.