Festivals, News
May 29, 2019

Director Mati Diop Becomes First Black Woman to Ever Win an Award at Cannes Film Festival

Director Mati Diop is creating art, and shattering glass ceilings for women of color in cinema.

CANNES, FRANCE – MAY 25: Mati Diop speaks after receiving the Grand Prix award for the film “Atlantique” at the Closing Ceremony during the 72nd annual Cannes Film Festival on May 25, 2019 in Cannes, France. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

On Saturday May 25, 2019 French-Senegalese director Mati Diop became the first black female director to win an award in the Cannes Film Festival’s 72-year history. She also was the first black woman to ever have a film accepted for competition at the festival. Diop, took home the Grand Prix award,(equivalent of a bronze medal/ third place prize) for her film Atlantics. The movie is a Senegalese-set drama that combines social consciousness with the supernatural in a tale of sexual politics among young migrants.

The Hollywood Reporter snagged a quote with Diop which we share with you now: “Diop is one of four female directors in the festival’s 21-film lineup, still a low percentage but a marked improvement from recent years, when the festival came under fire for its lack of female representation. Her inclusion marks another significant milestone: She is the first black female director to be accepted into the competition lineup in the festival’s 72-year history — a fact Diop was not aware of until she saw it reported online. “I discovered it myself, reading the article,” she says. “It was a rather odd experience for me because I approached it almost as somebody learning this, as an outsider. What I represent exceeds me and does not belong to me.” ”