Cannes Film Festival Women In Motion: Susan Sarandon & Geena Davis

Susan Sarandon & Geena Davis
Susan Sarandon & Geena Davis

The aim of the Women in Motion programme is to encourage reflection, discussion and change on the place of women in the film industry both on and off screen.  Who better than the founder of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media to fuel this discussion alongside Susan Sarandon, her costar in one of the most successful female-led films of all time – Thelma & Louise.

Twenty-Five years ago the pair starred in Ridley Scott’s film about two women on the run from the law, and they spent much of their Women In Motion talk reminiscing.  “We weren’t making a feminist film; we were making a buddy film,” says Sarandon.  While at the time they thought this film could reshape the way women were portrayed on screen, sadly it did not have a lasting effect.

Part of Geena Davis’ mission with her institute is to have women be seen on the screen, as she promotes through the See Jane campaign.  The idea is that if women are seen doing something substantial on screen, a girl watching will believe she can do it too.  For example, after the release of Brave and Hunger Games in 2012, “the number of young girls competing in archery grew dramatically,” explains Davis.  “It makes it familiar and makes it something that women want to aspire to and that men accept more.”

Females are so underrepresented on screen that even in crowd scenes, only 17% of crowd members are women.  Females represent half of the population, yet not in film.  Davis encourages writers to take the time to write in the half-female note for their crowds, or to change a character in their script from a male to a female rather than default to men – a woman can interpret the role just the same.

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