Sofia Coppola won the award for best director at the Cannes Film Festival yesterday for her new film, The Beguiled, a remake of the 1971 Clint Eastwood film of the same name.
This makes her the second woman in the festival’s 71-year history to take home that prize. The last was Russian director Yuliya Solntseva in 1961, who won for her dramatic retelling of grassroots resistance to the Nazi movement in the Soviet Union, Chronicle of Flaming Years.
In her acceptance speech, Coppola reportedly thanked Jane Campion, the Top of the Lake creator and Bright Star director who is still the only woman in the festival’s history to win the Palme d’Or. She won in 1993 for The Piano, which also netted her an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.
The win is significant for women filmmakers, and for Coppola personally, whose last competition film at Cannes, the Kirsten Dunst-starring Marie Antoinette, was booed. Now that it has honored two women directors, Cannes is officially ahead of the Oscars, which has honored only one (Katheryn Bigelow in 2009).
There were other bright spots for women during the festival this year. Nicole Kidman won a specially created 70th-anniversary prize, honoring her performances in four films that debuted at the festival — The Beguiled, Campion’s Top of the Lake: China Girl, Yorgos Lanthimos’ Killing of a Sacred Deer, and John Cameron Mitchell’s How To Talk To Girls At Parties. Lynne Ramsay, best known for her 2011 Tilda Swinton-fronted film We Need to Talk About Kevin, tied with Lanthimos for the award for best screenplay. She took home the honor for You Were Never Really Here, a crime drama starring Joaquin Phoenix, and a surprise hit that closed out the festival with a seven-minute standing ovation.
Coppola’s Civil War drama stars Nicole Kidman, Colin Farrell, Kirsten Dunst, and Elle Fanning, and though the screenplay is adapted from the same Thomas P. Cullinan novel as the Eastwood film, the Coppola treatment has been billed as a more explicit female empowerment story. The Beguiled will be released in the US on June 23rd.