French feminists on Friday slammed the Cannes Film Festival for failing to include a single woman director in the line-up for the Palme d'Or top award that kicks off next week.
There are no female film-makers among the 22 competing for the top award at the May 16-27 festival, and just two among the 17 in its new talent section "Un Certain Regard": France's Catherine Corsini and Sylvie Verheyde.
"All 22 films in the official selection were written, happy coincidence, by 22 men," the feminist group La Barbe (The Beard) wrote in a mordant op-ed article in the weekend edition of Le Monde newspaper.
"For its 65th edition, the festival will therefore crown for the 63rd time one among their ranks, defending without fail the virile values that are the pride of the film-making art."
New Zealand director Jane Campion is the only director in the history of the event to have won the Palme d'Or, for "The Piano" in 1993.
An unprecedented number of women last year ran for the Palme d'Or, with France's Maiwenn, Australia' Julia Leigh, Scottish director Lynne Ramsay and Japan's Naomi Kawase taking hard looks at sex, violence and family life.
"Last year, no doubt it was an accident, four women managed to slip in among the 20 in the official competition," read the text.
"Sirs, you have returned to your senses and we thank you for that," read the ironic text. "This selection sends a strong signal to the profession and the public around the world."
"Whatever we do, we must not let young girls believe they could one day have the nerve to direct films and climb the steps of the festival palace other than on the arm of a prince charming."
When it comes to the glamour side of Cannes, the authors noted there was no shortage of feminine talent, with a string of female stars expected in Cannes and "The Artist" star Berenice Bejo hosting the opening ceremony.
"Women make perfect hostesses," wrote the authors. "Let's spare them the worry of managing a film crew, the tough technical challenges of a film shoot."
One of the two directors selected in the new talent section this year, Verheyde brings the period drama "Confession of a Child of the Century" starring Charlotte Gainsbourg opposite the rocker Pete Doherty.
Corsini will show a film entitled "Three Worlds" about a young man whose world is turned upside down after an accident on his stag night.