One might have believed this was all a set up for the forty-third edition of the Angouleme comics festival was full of twists. Let us come back on the highlights of this year’s edition.
Every year, the Grand Prix of the festival attributed to a writer for his/her entire work but also for his/her contribution to the evolution of the comic genre. However, despite the increased presence of women in this category, it has been a while since any woman has been at least nominated for the Grand Prix. This year’s list is composed of 30 names… of men.
This time though this was the last straw: the Award Selection Committee was accused of being sexist by many of the cartoonists both males and females. This event aroused the indignation of the writers who belong to the movement “le collectif des créatrices de bande dessinée contre le sexism” (“the collective of comics creators against sexism”), created in 2013, engendering a snowball effect that could rival with those of the social networks. The reaction of Diglee, a female cartoonist, is but one example among the numerous reactions that ensued.
This has created a widespread rallying around the festival. A group of authors started a boycott against the selection of nominees for the Grand Prix. Among them, Riad Sattouf and Joan Sfar, respectively writers of L’Arabe du future and Le Chat du rabbin, required that their names be withdrawn from the list to show their solidarity to the cause. You can find a list of other examples on Twitter, under #WomenDoBD.
The Festival’s Organising Committee’s reaction was to let the authors choose the Laureate. The director of this festival, Franck Bondoux, explained this choice in an interview delivered to Le Monde: “Throughout the History of Cartoons, the festival reflected reality. Going back in time, we find only a few female cartoonists. This is a fact. So calling the festival of Angoulême sexist is going too far and totally uncalled for.”
Yet this affair did not stop there. The subject of gender equality was indeed broached by the ex-minister of the Culture, Fleur Pellerin, in her inauguration speech for the exhibition dedicated to Lucky Luke and the cartoonist Morris.
“Culture must be an example for gender parity and the respect of diversity. There are talented female cartoonists and it would be unfair and immoral that they be set aside because of their sex.”
Fleur Pellerin, in order to show her support to the « Women do BD » cause, offered a place in the Order of Arts and Literature to eight people including five women writers as to reward them for being what she called a “symbol of French talent”. Is it a simple compensation or a deserved reward?
Whatever the reason for this generous offer, four female authors turned it down and explained why on the web.
As a last wave goodbye, the award ceremony ended the festival with a representation that was not suited to everyone’s liking. The actor Richard Gaitet, who was hosting the award ceremony of the “Fauves”, appeared on stage and announced the lucky winners for each category. There was an instant reaction from the audience, everyone was rejoicing when the blow was dealt: everything was a joke, the true ceremony had not even started yet. And when the real winners did receive their awards, it did not have the same effect. Richard Gaitet then apologized in a letter to Le Monde assuring that he wholeheartedly defended literature and in particular the comics book. That concluded this year’s festival that will probably go down in history. What can we expect for the forty-fourth edition?
Translation for the article « Comme un air de révolte » written by Maëlle Ferry, the 29/02/2016.