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Sofia Coppola Is First Female Director In Over 50 Years To Win At Cannes

05/29/2017 12:59 EDT

Sofia Coppola just made history at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival. On Sunday, the 46-year-old won Best Director for her film “The Beguiled,” a remake of Clint Eastwood’s 1971 civil war drama of the same name.

Coppola’s win makes her the second female filmmaker to win the award in 56 years.

The first was Soviet director Yuliya Solntseva who was awarded for her 1961 film “The Chronicle of Flaming Years.”

sofia coppola

Sofia Coppola at the 70th Cannes Film Festival.

Gender equality has never been a high priority for Cannes Film Festival, which is why Coppola’s historic win is so significant. In the past, the festival has been criticized for the lack of diverse directors in its lineup, and in 2012, the festival featured no female filmmakers at all, The Guardian reports.

This year, however, Cannes included three female directors — Coppola, Lynne Ramsay and Naomi Kawase — to compete for the festival’s top prize, the Palme d’Or. While the award went to Swedish director Ruben Östlund for his film “The Square,” the festival's efforts to rectify gender equality did not go unnoticed.

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"The Beguiled" at Cannes: Director Sofia Coppola and cast members Kirsten Dunst, Nicole Kidman, Elle Fanning pose.

The award for Coppola's feminist adaptation of “The Beguiled” hopefully helps Cannes bring gender representation to the forefront. The film stars leading lady Nicole Kidman, who had four projects screening at Cannes this year and was awarded a special 70th anniversary award.

In “The Beguiled,” Kidman plays the headmistress of an all-girls school in Virginia during the Civil War. Kirsten Dunst also stars in the film and plays a teacher, and Elle Fanning plays a student.

The film focuses on these female relationships and how their quiet lifestyle is disrupted when a wounded Union soldier, played by Colin Farrell, is taken in by the school.

Eastwood’s previous adaptation, which is based on a 1966 novel by Thomas P. Cullinan, simply focused on the soldier.

Now that two women have won Best Director at Cannes, The Verge notes that the festival is officially making more strides than the Academy Awards when it comes to gender equality. In its 88 years, the Oscars have only awarded one female director its top prize, which was won by Kathryn Bigelow for her thriller “‎The Hurt Locker” in 2010.

Clearly film awards have a long way to go when it comes to gender representation, but at least Coppola’s win at Cannes is a step in the right direction. Bravo!

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