The Cannes Film Festival got rolling on yesterday with a strong day for female representation, including the new Mad Max, a Meryl Streep masterclass and the leading figure of France’s #MeToo movement.

Furiosa, the latest instalment of the post-apocalyptic Mad Max franchise, features Anya Taylor-Joy in the blood-splattering lead role, playing alongside Thor star Chris Hemsworth. 

They were due on the red carpet later on Wednesday for the world premiere, playing out of competition at the festival on the Cote d’Azur, which runs until May 25. 

Taylor-Joy plays a younger version of the character portrayed by Charlize Theron in the previous film, Fury Road

Meanwhile, two very different stories about women kicked off the race for the festival’s top prize, the Palme d’Or

The Girl with the Needle is billed as the story of a Danish woman who set up an underground adoption agency after World War I. 

And Wild Diamond follows a French teenager seeking fame and recognition by applying for a reality TV show, from first-time director Agathe Riedinger. 

Streep masterclass

One of the most iconic women in cinema, Meryl Streep, will also be delivering a masterclass, a day after receiving an honorary Palme d’Or at the opening ceremony. 

“I’m just so grateful that you haven’t gotten sick of my face,” Streep, 74, joked to the audience, as she received her honorary Palme d’Or from French actor Juliette Binoche.

And there is a screening of a short film about sexual abuse, Moi Aussi (Me Too) by French actor Judith Godreche. 

American actress Meryl Streep receives an honorary Palme d'Or award at the opening of the 77th Cannes Film Festival. Video: France Televisions/Brut/Affif/AFP

She has become a leading figure in France’s #MeToo movement after accusing two directors of assaulting her when she was a teenager in the 1980s – even appearing before the Senate this year to call for greater protections on film sets. 

It comes amid a wave of new allegations in France, most notably against veteran actor Gerard Depardieu, and persistent rumours that more big names will face accusations. 

Godreche told AFP she has a nuanced view of the #MeToo movement. 

“There is growing awareness, but sometimes things are announced in a way that feels too staged. It’s not very spectacular being abused, it’s not very funny, it’s not very theatrical,” she said.

Gerwig hopeful

Picking this year’s Palme d’Or falls to a jury led by Greta Gerwig, who became the first woman director to make a $1-billion movie last year with Barbie.

“Every year I cheer when there are more and more women being represented,” Gerwig told reporters on Tuesday. 

“Fifteen years ago, I couldn’t have imagined the number of women represented not only at international festivals but in distribution and board conversations, and so I’m hopeful that it’s just continuing,” she said.

US director and president of the Jury of the 77th Cannes Film Festival Greta Gerwig (centre). Photo: Julie Sebadelha/AFPUS director and president of the Jury of the 77th Cannes Film Festival Greta Gerwig (centre). Photo: Julie Sebadelha/AFP

Still to come at the 77th edition of the festival is the hotly anticipated return of The Godfather director Francis Ford Coppola with his decades-in-the-making epic, Megalopolis, on Thursday. 

Also in the running are a Donald Trump biopic, The Apprentice, and new films from arthouse favourites David Cronenberg (The Shrouds), Italy’s Paolo Sorrentino (Parthenope), as well as Emilia Perez, an unlikely-sounding musical about a Mexican cartel boss having a sex change from French Palme d’Or-winner Jacques Audiard.

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