But jury member British director Andrea Arnold said: “I would absolutely hate it if my film was selected because I was a woman.
“I would only want my film to be selected for the right reasons.”
The festival opens with the film Moonrise Kingdom.
Starring Bruce Willis and Ed Norton it was directed by Wes Anderson and is one of the films screening in the competition.
Others who have made the cut include Brit Ken Loach, Michael Haneke and Jacques Audiard — all previous winners of the prize.
In an open letter to the media, a group of French filmmakers have accused the organisers of failing to recognise the achievements of female directors.
Last year, four women were included on the list, including Scotland’s Lynne Ramsay, director of We Need to Talk About Kevin.
But speaking at a press conference earlier, Arnold said the lack of women in competition reflected the industry as a whole.
“Last year was obviously a good year,” she said. “I was asked this earlier and it’s true the world over, in the world of film there are just not many woman film directors.
“I guess Cannes is a small pocket that represents how it is out there in the world and that’s a great pity, a great disappointment.”
Led by Italian director Nanni Moretti and including fashion designer Jean Paul Gaultier, Oscar-winning writer and filmmaker Alexander Payne and Scots actor Ewan McGregor — the jury will watch all the nominated films and announce a winner on May 27.
German actress Diane Kruger (pictured below), known for films including Inglourious Basterds and Troy, is one of four women on the jury. She starred in the film Lily Sometimes, which closed the Cannes director’s fortnight —a special section of the festival which shows features, documentaries and short films — in 2010.
It was directed by a woman, Fabienne Berthaud and Kruger insisted: “My impression is that women are made welcome in Cannes.”
Other female filmmakers who are showing at Cannes include the first female Saudi director Haiffa al Mansour and France’s Catherine Corsini and Sylvie Verheyde —who are competing in the Un Certain Regard category. — BBCOnline.