"This is the first time I've watched 20 films in 10 days, and I love movies, and the one thing I really took away from this experience is how the world views women, from the female characters that I saw represented. It was quite disturbing to me, to be honest," Chastain, 40, a two-time Oscar nominee, said at a press conference after Sofia Coppola's best director win for her film "The Beguiled."
"There are some exceptions, I will say. But for the most part, I was surprised by the representation of female characters onscreen in these films," Chastain said.
"I do hope that when we include more female storytellers, we will have more of the women that I recognize in my day-to-day life — ones that are proactive, have their own agencies, don't just react to the men around them," she added. "They have their own point of view."
In Hollywood many women, including director Ava DuVernay, Lena Dunham and "Saturday Night Live" star Aidy Bryant, applauded Chastian for her remarks after they went viral.
Coppola is only the second woman to win Cannes' best director award in 71 years. Russian director Yuliya Solntseva last won the prize in 1961 for her film "Chronicle of Flaming Years."
"The Beguiled" — which stars Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, Elle Fanning and Colin Farrell — is based on the book of the same name, originally titled "A Painted Devil," by Thomas P. Cullinan, about the unexpected arrival of a wounded Union Army soldier at an all-female boarding school in the South during the Civil War. The film arrives in U.S. theaters on June 23.