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Jessica Chastain “Disturbed” by Portrayal of Women in Film

Actress Jessica Chastain served as a jury member for the 2017 Cannes Film Festival, and in terms of the women portrayed in the films she oversaw, Chastain says she doesn’t recognize them.

Chastain’s remarks included her belief that more women need to be behind the camera. “I do believe that if you have female storytelling, you have more authentic female characters,” she mentioned.

The Zero Dark Thirty actress used her closing remarks at the press conference for the Cannes Film Festival to express her concern, stemming from the “disturbing” way she believed women had been depicted in this year’s films.

“This is the first time I’ve watched 20 films in 10 days and I love movies,” said Chastain, as reported by CNN. “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.”

In this, the actress noticed a troubling pattern. “It was quite disturbing to me to be honest,” Chastain said. “There are some exceptions, I will say, but for the most part I was surprised with the representation of female characters on screen in these films.”

Chastain noted that storytelling that does justice for women’s characters would likely come if there were more women telling these stories. Ava DuVernay, director of the historical drama Selma, quickly championed Chastain’s remarks on Twitter, tweeting a video of the conference with a simple comment: “Say that, @jes_chastain.”

DuVernay, as a female director, is a rarity herself. This year at Cannes, CNN reported that “Sofia Coppola became only the second woman in Cannes’ 70 year history to win its director prize, taking home the honor for her film The Beguiled.”

Chastain believes that better storytelling is attainable, and she hopes to see more relatable and authentic female characters in future films. The lack of accurate representation for women also sheds light on the fact that the female character in itself is more often used as a trope rather than cultivated as a genuine reflection of a person.

“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,” Chastain said. “Ones that are proactive, have their own agencies, don’t just react to the men around them. They have their own point of view.”

Indeed, they do.

Featured Image by Gage Skidmore on Flickr

Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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