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Feminist group protest at Cannes premiere

A French feminist group upset about the lack of female directors at this year's Cannes Film Festival staged a hairy protest on the red carpet Sunday.

Five women from La Barbe donned fake, different colored beards and stood in the torrential rain at the premiere of Michael Haneke's "Amour." They carried signs that said, "Marveilleux," ''Merci!!!" ''Splendide," ''Incredible!" and "Le Barbe."

None of the 22 films competing for the Palme D'Or prize at the festival this year was directed by a woman.

La Barbe, which means The Beard, previously had a letter complaining about the male-dominated festival line-up published in Le Monde and The Guardian newspapers.

The lack of women directors at the festival also has spurred protest in the United States, where a petition has been signed by almost 2,000 people, including feminist icon Gloria Steinem and director Gillian Armstrong.

The festival's artistic director, Thierry Fremaux, has defended the woman-free line-up, saying he does not pick movies based on who has made them. The festival has issued a statement in support of Fremaux, saying films were chosen "without regard to race, color, sex, language, religion, political opinion" or any other external factor.

Filmmakers including Britain's Andrea Arnold, a member of this year's Cannes jury, have defended the festival, saying the bigger issue is the lack of female directors making feature films.