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female filmmakers

The 65th Cannes Film Festival (Festival de Cannes) opens today on the French Riviera with US director Wes Anderson’s film Moonrise Kingdom.

Wes Anderson’s movie, which stars Bill Murray, is one of the 22 movies selected to compete for the festival’s biggest prize, the Palme d’Or.

However, the celebrations have been marred by criticism that no female directors will be in competition.

The only woman to have won the prestigious award was Jane Campion in 1993, with The Piano.

A group of prominent female filmmakers have written an open letter to the French newspaper Le Monde criticizing the lack of women being showcased.

Ripe with sarcasm, the letter was signed by directors Fanny Cottencon and Virginie Despentes – who made the sexually explicit Baise Moi in 2000 – among others.

It said: “Men love their women to have depth, but only when it comes to their cleavages.

“All 22 films in the official selection were written, happy coincidence, by 22 men.”

However, festival director Thierry Fremaux has supported the longlist of nominees, insisting the judges “would never select a film that doesn’t deserve it just because it is directed by a woman”.

The 65th Cannes Film Festival opens today on the French Riviera with US director Wes Anderson's film Moonrise Kingdom

The 65th Cannes Film Festival opens today on the French Riviera with US director Wes Anderson's film Moonrise Kingdom

This year’s Palme d’Or judges are led by Italian Nanni Moretti and include Britain’s Ewan McGregor and Andrea Arnold, acclaimed for directing the 2009 film Fish Tank.

Last year saw the British filmmaker Lynne Ramsey nominated for her film We Need To Talk About Kevin.

Her star in that film, British actress Tilda Swinton, is due on the red carpet as a cast member of Anderson’s opening night film – which also stars Bruce Willis.

Also in competition this year is Ken Loach with his Glasgow-set comedy-drama The Angel’s Share.

He has been nominated 11 times, last winning the Palme d’Or in 2006 for the IRA drama The Wind That Shakes The Barley.

Past winners Michael Haneke and Jacque Audiard – who won the jury’s Grand Prize for his film A Prophet in 2009 – are also in the running.

Australian John Hillcoat and New Zealand’s Andrew Dominik are both nominated respectively for the prohibition era film Lawless and Killing Me Softly, which stars Brad Pitt.

Brad Pitt and his fiancée Angelina Jolie are both expected on the red carpet this year.

American David Cronenberg is in competition with his film Cosmopolis, starring an against-type Robert Pattinson, while Cronenberg’s son Brendan is competing in the Un Certain Regard category – which awards new talent – with his film Antiviral.

Two female film-makers join him in that category: France’s Catherine Corsini and Sylvie Verheyde.

The 2012 Cannes Film festival will take place from May 16 to May 27. Out of 1,779 films submitted this year, only 54 features made the cut.

Film festival held annually in Cannes, France. First held in 1946 for the recognition of artistic achievement, the festival came to provide a rendezvous for those interested in the art and influence of the movies. Like other film festivals, it became an international marketplace where producers and distributors could exchange ideas, view films, and sign contracts. The phenomenon of international coproduction arose at Cannes in the late 1940s.