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Arts and Entertainment

Jessica Chastain Was 'Disturbed' By The Depiction Of Women After Sitting Through All The Movies At Cannes

Pedro Almodovar, Jessica Chastain and Paolo Sorrentino at the Palme D'Or winner press conference during the 70th annual Cannes Film Festival at Palais des Festivals on May 28, 2017 in Cannes, France. (Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images)
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Watching 20 movies in 10 days would be a whirlwind for anyone, let alone someone tasked with judging said films for one of the world's most prestigious film festivals. For actress Jessica Chastain, a role on the jury at Cannes led to a sobering realization about the portrayal of women on the big screen.

“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,” Chastain said at the festival's closing press conference.

Say that, @jes_chastain.

— Ava DuVernay (@ava) May 29, 2017

"It was quite disturbing to me, to be honest," Chastain said, adding that there were a few exceptions. "But, for the most part, I was surprised with the represenation of female characters on screen in these films. I do hope that when we include more female storytellers, we will have more of the women I recognize in my day-to-day life. Ones that are proactive, that have their own agency. They just don’t react to the men around them. They have their own point-of-view.”

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According to the Guardian, Cannes has "long been criticised for its treatment of female film-makers." Only one woman, Jane Campion, has ever won the Palme d’Or, the festival's highest honor. Chastain is also no stranger to critiquing the unfair treatment of women in Hollywood, or standing up for women's rights in general, particularly on Twitter, where the actress is a welcome and whip-smart addition to the usual 140-characters-at-a-time commentariat cesspool. A few choice examples from the healthcare debate earlier this year:

Back in the south of France (but a few days before giving the since-viral press conference answer shown above) Chastain took a break from red carpet gowns to stay on message, showing up at a beachside hotel on the famed Croisette in a white "We Should All Be Feminists" tee (the line references a 2014 essay by writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie).

Perhaps there is no greater testament to Chastain's assertion "that if you have female storytelling, you have more authentic female storytellers," than the forthcoming Wonder Woman movie. With Patty Jenkins at its helm, Wonder Woman is the first summer tent pole superhero film directed by a woman, and the effect is profound. The film, which currently has a 97% score on Rotten Tomatoes, is arguably more fun to watch than any superhero movie I've seen, in large part because Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman feels like such a dynamic, fully-fleshed out character—motivated by her own desires and struggles as opposed to just playing fill-in-the-blanks second fiddle to some man's storyline.

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