VENICE, Italy (AP) — Female directors should fight film-industry sexism by making movies that appeal to as wide an audience as possible, Venice Film Festival jury president Annette Bening said Wednesday, the first day of a festival that has been criticized for a lack of female voices.
"American Beauty" star Bening, a four-time Academy Awards nominee, heads the panel that will choose a winner of the Golden Lion from among 21 films competing for the festival's top prize. Only one is by a woman: Vivian Qu's "Angels Wear White."
Bening said "it's a long road" to equality but things are changing for the better.
She told reporters at the festival that "we as women have to be very sharp and shrewd and creative ourselves about what we chose to make."
She said all directors struggle to get films made and "there is a lot of sexism of course."
"I think the more that we as women can make films that speak to everyone, we can be regarded as filmmakers," Bening added.
Festival director Alberto Barbera has defended the festival's selections this year, saying the industry remains "very sexist" and there simply are not enough female directors.
Barbera told The Associated Press that he didn't like the idea of setting a quota for female-directed films "because it doesn't help them and it doesn't help the films."
There are several female directors in the Venice lineup outside the main competition.
Horizons, the festival's edgier sidebar competition, opened Wednesday with "Nico, 1988," a biopic of the former Velvet Underground singer by Italian director Susanna Nicchiarelli.