Director Sofia Coppola was among the big winners at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival in the south of France on Sunday. Coppola, of course, is the daughter of legendary filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola, and after brief stints as an actress (including The Godfather: Part III), she has largely spent her career behind the camera as a screenwriter and director. Making her directorial debut in 1999 with The Virgin Suicides starring Kirsten Dunst, Coppola’s breakthrough as a filmmaker came with the 2004 Bill Murray/Scarlett Johansson drama Lost in Translation, which earned her Oscar nominations for Best Director and Best Picture (as one of the film’s producers), as well as an Oscar win for Best Original Screenplay.

Coppola was named Best Director at the Cannes Film Festival Sunday for her remake of Clint Eastwood’s 1971 Western drama The Beguiled. The Civil War-era tale, which stars Dunst, Nicole Kidman, Elle Fanning and Colin Farrell, follows a group of women sheltered from the outside world who take in wounded Union soldier. Coppola’s win at Cannes ended an extensive, male-dominated run of winners, since the  last time a female took the prestigious honor was in 1961 when Russia’s Yuliya Solntseva won for her film Chronicle of Flaming Years. Solntseva was also the first female to ever with the top director honors at the french festival, making Coppela the second in the festival’s 70 year history.

Cannes also awarded the Swedish satire The Square with the Palme d’Or, which is its equivalent of Best Picture. German actress Diane Kruger – known for her roles in such American-produced films as Inglorious Basterds and National Treasure – won for Best Actress speaking her native language in the German courtroom and revenge drama In the Fade; while Joaquin Phoenix won Best Actor for the mystery thriller You Were Never Really Here, about a war veteran-turned- hitman trying to save a young prostitute.

You Were Never Really Here also earned Best Screenplay honors for writer-director Lynne Ramsay, who shared the award with the writers of the thriller The Killing of the Sacred Deer, starring Farrell and Kidman. Oscar-winner Kidman (The Hours) was also honored with a special prize at Cannes in conjunction with Cannes’ 70th anniversary.

Clearly the big winner at Cannes this year was Coppola, not only because of the prestige the Best Director honor brings, but because of the extraordinary long gap between her and the last female to win the prize. While the box office success of The Beguiled when it opens in theaters domestically June 30 is yet to be determined, its long-term awards prospects no doubt have gotten a huge bump with Coppola’s win. And with such promising films as Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman and Oscar winning-director Kathryn Bigelow’s Detroit on the horizon, perhaps Hollywood will finally take notice and start to close the gender gap when it comes to opportunities for women filmmakers.

Source: Cannes Film Festival

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