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Mad Max, Meryl, and #MeToo in strong day for women at Cannes

CANNES, France — A blood-splattered "Mad Max" heroine, a Meryl Streep masterclass, a #MeToo figurehead — the Cannes Film Festival showed the progress women have made in cinema on its first full day.

The festival was bracing for the world premiere of "Furiosa", the latest installment of the post-apocalyptic "Mad Max" franchise, with Anya Taylor-Joy in the no-holds-barred title role playing alongside "Thor" star Chris Hemsworth.

While "Furiosa" plays out-of-competition, the race for festival's top prize, the Palme d'Or, also gets underway on Wednesday with two films that put women's stories centre-stage.

They are being judged by a jury led by Greta Gerwig, the first woman to direct a billion dollar movie with "Barbie."

First up are "The Girl with the Needle", billed as the story of a Danish woman who set up an underground adoption agency after World War I, and "Wild Diamond" about a French teenager seeking fame on a reality TV show, from first-time director Agathe Riedinger.

Related:  Meryl Streep receiving honorary Palme d'Or at Cannes

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 as she received the award from French actor Juliette Binoche.

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

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 French 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 said 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."

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