Entertainment & Arts

Cannes: Nicole Kidman urges support for female directors

Nicole Kidman Image copyright EPA
Image caption Nicole Kidman has four projects at Cannes

The lack of women behind the camera is still a major problem, Nicole Kidman has said.

She told the Cannes Film Festival it's "a given" that female actors have to support female directors.

The Australian actress, who has four projects at Cannes, was speaking as she promoted Sofia Coppola's The Beguiled.

It stars Colin Farrell as an injured soldier taken in by a female boarding school in America's deep south during the civil war.

The remake of a 1971 film starring Clint Eastwood differs from the original in that it is told from the female point of view.

Farrell joked he was the "token male" - with Kidman adding: "He comes and ruins everything."

Image copyright Focus Features
Image caption Nicole stars in Sofia Coppola's The Beguiled

The Beguiled is one of 19 films in contention for the Palme d'Or - and one of 12 being shown across the festival this year that's by a female director.

Kidman said: "Only 4.2% of women directed the major motion pictures of 2016. That's a statistic from the Women in Film group. There were 4,000 episodic TV series and only 183 women directed them.

"That there says it all. I think that's an important thing to say and keep saying.

"We have Jane Campion [director of TV series Top of the Lake] and Sofia here. We as women have to support female directors. That's just a given now.

"Hopefully it will change over time, but people keep saying, 'oh it's so different now', but it isn't - listen to that."

The Australian actress also stars in The Killing of a Sacred Deer, Top of the Lake and How to Talk to Girls at Parties, all being shown during the festival.

Kidman plays buttoned-up headmistress Martha Farnsworth in The Beguiled, based on the first film and the book by Thomas P Cullinan that was the original source material.

The arrival of Union soldier John McBurney threatens to shatter the repressed female household, shut away from the outside world in their school.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Kirsten Dunst (left), Nicole Kidman (centre) and Elle Fanning (right) at the Cannes photocall for The Beguiled

Coppola explained: "He comes into this delicate world and he's dark, dirty and smelly. He gave that contrast."

Farrell said to laughter: "It's been a journey, man, to get here. Many miles of road, many corsets - which I didn't have to worry about, being the token male."

Coppola added that she admired Kidman's "twisted humour" in the role, which is at times darkly funny, and that she decided to embrace "Southern Gothic" for the movie.

Instead of a remake, she described the film - also starring Kirsten Dunst and Elle Fanning - as "two sides of the same story".

Coppola was the latest at Cannes to express her love of the big screen, in a year dominated by the row on whether or not Netflix films needed to be screened in cinemas if they want to be considered for awards at the festival.

"We shot it thinking of the big screen," she said. "The experience is such a unique one, especially in our modern lives - so I'm excited to be in Cannes to celebrate that."

The film received some rave reviews, with Peter Bradshaw in the Guardian describing it as an "enjoyable southern melodrama" and the Daily Telegraph saying Kidman was a "camp delight". But The Independent said it was Coppola's worst work.

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