Only one other woman besides Sofia Coppola has won “Best Director” at Cannes, and that’s pretty disappointing

Huge congratulations are in order for Sofia Coppola, who just won the “Best Director” at Cannes for her much-anticipated film The Beguiled. Coppola, of course, has been on our radar forever, thanks to incredible, female-centric films like Lost in Translation and Marie Antoinette. In addition to being from a famous film family, Coppola has more than proved she can stand on her own as a director, and the Cannes award is certainly well-deserved!


But, however happy we are for Coppola, the sad news  that in the 71 years of Cannes being Cannes, only two women have ever won Best Director.

The first woman to win the Cannes award for “Best Director” was Yuliya Solntseva in 1961.

Yup, you did that math right. It’s been 56 years since a woman has clinched this huge award. We are disappointed with Cannes, whose track record for honoring female directors is not great. Note that the only woman to ever win Cannes’ Palme d’Or (AKA the highest honor the fest doles out) is Jane Campion way back in 1993 for The Piano. (Note that Jane Campion thinks it is totally insane that she’s the only woman in 70 years to win this prize. WE AGREE.)

And note that Cannes has only done SLIGHTLY better when it comes to honoring female directors than the Academy Awards. (Kathryn Bigelow. Hurt Locker. 2009. That’s IT. There are SO many more women who should have little gold men on their mantles. Film industry, you GOTTA do better.)

That all said, let’s take this opportunity to honor Yuliya Solntseva, a true trailblazer. Solntseva, a prolific Soviet director, directed 14 films between the years 1939 and 1979. Solntseva won Cannes’ big directing award in 1961 for her film Chronicle of Flaming Years. Her Cannes award-winning film is a war drama that chronicles the Russian resistance to Nazi occupation in 1941.

We, of, course jump at the chance to remember a feminist film history great. But we need more lady directors winning these top prizes. We shouldn’t be able to count these winners on one hand. There are way too many women helming films who deserve these top prizes. Film industry, straighten yourself out and give these extraordinary women their due!