23 April 2014 4:00 PM, PDT | Variety - Film News | See recent Variety - Film News news »

It doesn’t feel accidental that the Cannes Film Festival should deliver an unusually strong showing for female filmmakers the same year that Jane Campion is serving as jury president. But festival topper Thierry Fremaux, who’s typically loath to discuss his program in terms of gender representation, insists that featuring the work of 15 women helmers in the official selection — two of them (Naomi Kawase and Alice Rohrwacher) in competition — was not a conscious decision.

“We’ve always shown films directed by women,” Fremaux said, adding that diversity in the movie biz is an issue that needs to be addressed year-round.

Certainly there’s more than one way to measure the inclusiveness of the competition program unveiled at the fest’s April 17 press conference. The youngest director in competition is 25 (Xavier Dolan); the oldest, 83 (Jean-Luc Godard). As always, French helmers are plentiful, including Godard (“Goodbye to Language”), Michel Hazanavicius (“The Search »

- Justin Chang

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