More than a thousand women filmmakers and others have signed a US petition in support of French feminists protesting a lack of female directors in the line-up for the Cannes Film Festival's top prize.
The petition -- headlined "Where Are the Women Directors?" -- was launched this week by 250 signatories including "Toy Story 3" producer Darla K. Anderson, director Gillian Armstrong and feminist icon Gloria Steinem.
By Friday, some 1,050 women in the business from as far afield as Australia, Brazil and India had signed the online appeal, which urges Cannes jurors "to commit to transparency and equality in the selection process of these films."
"We judge films as human beings, shaped by our own perspectives and experiences. It is vital, therefore, that there be equality and diversity at the point of selection," it says.
The petition is the brainchild of Melissa Silverstein, founder of a blog called Women and Hollywood, who told the Hollywood Reporter: "There's a sense of people in back rooms smoking cigars and making deals."
"Some people get picked over and over again. They have, like, a family -- Terrence Malick, Wes Anderson, Jane Campion -- which is great, but we need more Jane Campions ...," she added.
There are no female filmmakers among the 22 competing for the Palme d'Or, the top award at the May 16-27 festival, and just two among the 17 in its new talent section: France's Catherine Corsini and Sylvie Verheyde.
French feminist group La Barbe (The Beard) wrote a scathing op-ed article in last weekend's Le Monde newspaper, noting that "all 22 films in the official selection were written, what a happy coincidence, by 22 men."
Responding to the La Barbe article a few days later, British film-maker and Cannes juror Andrea Arnold said she would "hate it if my film was selected because I am a woman."
"I would only want my film to be selected for the right reasons -- not out of charity because I'm female or anything," said Arnold, whose first two films -- "Red Road" in 2006 and 2009's "Fish Tank" -- both won the Cannes jury prize.
New Zealand director Campion is the only woman director in the history of the event to have won the Palme d'Or, for"The Piano" in 1993.