Women screenwriters honored at the Cannes Film Market
English Translation from article in Le Figaro by Bleuenn Robert
May 25th 2022
For the second year in a row, Wscripted presents its Cannes Screenplay List which highlights feature film scripts written by women.
In parallel to the Cannes Film Festival, the Cannes Film Market takes place from May 17 to 25. It is an opportunity for industry professionals to meet, exchange ideas and, above all, to sell their projects. This year, for the second year in a row, producers were able to discover the work of women screenwriters through the Cannes Screenplay List of Wscripted, sponsored by MUBI. Launched in 2020 during the Toronto International Film Festival, the platform has become a tool for some filmmakers to make their voices heard in a still predominantly male environment.
Collaborative spirit and network effect
Ellie Jamen, co-founder of Wscripted, explains that the birth of the platform came “at an opportune time for the support of women screenwriters in the film industry.” Indeed, according to the data provided by the platform, women writers are underrepresented in the film industry. To address this imbalance, Wscripted facilitates the discovery of “projects written by women for producers, agents and production companies”. The team also includes co-founder Marine Haziza, who oversees the technological development of the platform through an innovative technology solution.
Artists, both professionals and beginners, submit their projects for TV series, feature films and shorts, as well as books and plays for free on the platform. Created two years ago, it now counts 1500 screenwriters from North America and Europe who regularly have the opportunity to present their projects to professionals in the sector, likely to collaborate with them. An opportunity that can open to others, as screenwriter Anne Loriot explains: “What’s interesting is that you can apply to pitch but also to attend the pitches. It allows you to know what international productions are looking for, their editorial line, to know the producers. It is very formative to listen to the projects of others.
Anne Loriot joined the platform at its launch. After a career as a cinematographer, she has always loved telling stories. She started writing five years ago after joining the non-profit Séquence7, which aims to “promote and enhance the profession of screenwriter”. Her collaboration with Wscripted has allowed her to internationalize her network but also to get inspired by other screenwriters registered on the platform. “It’s important to have this network effect, to listen to other people’s projects, to project new worlds. It’s not only about putting forward female authors, but also about creating a network, so that we can feed off each other in this new way of writing audiovisual fiction,” she says.
Egyptian-American writer and director Dina Amer shares this view: “Sometimes, thanks to this kind of opening and opportunity, you can meet someone with whom you will make your next film, collaborations can be formed. While she is aware of the fierceness and competition in the film world, the filmmaker remains convinced that it is time for women to “walk through the doors” that are only beginning to open for them as quickly as possible: “The female eye sees things in a different way, and I think maybe that’s what the world needs right now. For this lover of France and French cinema, “there is a space for everyone to express themselves and bring their light to society.”
“If the female characters are too binary, perpetuate stereotypes, fit into the patriarchal mold or do not offer anything new, the project is not selected, even if it is well written. It’s an editorial choice, we try to make things change.
Ellie Jamen, co-founder of Wscripted
Dina Amer seems to be finding that space, as her new feature film is on Wscripted’s Cannes Screenplay List, alongside 30 other projects. Named Cain & Abel and inspired by a true story, the film follows the opposing trajectories of two brothers, one a police officer, the other a radicalized, who find themselves face to face. After a first experience with her film You Resemble Me, for which she was supported by Spike Lee as executive producer, the filmmaker who directs her films in French joined the platform very recently in order to participate in the call for projects of the Cannes list.
This year’s list has grown to 31 projects, with 25 projects in English and 6 in French. Among them, film scripts from film festivals such as Sundance, the main independent film festival in the United States, which recommends the projects of its alumni (filmmakers that the festival supports through workshops or grants), but also by non-profits such as La Scénaristerie in France. The other projects on the list were selected from all those sent to the platform. To study them, a committee of 20 people was formed in March: ten English-speaking and ten French-speaking scriptwriters from the non-profit Séquence7. “It was very interesting to see how each one could define a strong protagonist”, explains Anne Loriot who was part of the reading committee.
The idea is to “promote projects where the characters are quite developed (female or male),” adds Ellie Jamen. She continues: “If the female characters are too binary, perpetuate stereotypes, fit into the patriarchal mold or don’t offer anything new, the project is not selected, even if it is well written. It’s an editorial choice, we’re trying to make things change. As the Cannes Film Market closes its doors on Wednesday, business cards and negotiations are going well on the Croisette, with, perhaps, deals made for the projects on the Cannes Screenplay List. Answer in theaters, in a few months or years.