Sexual abuse: MeToo in France: Is the cinema world breaking its silence?

In 2019, Adèle Haenel caused a scandal in France's cinema world.

Sexual abuse: MeToo in France: Is the cinema world breaking its silence?

In 2019, Adèle Haenel caused a scandal in France's cinema world. She was the first actress to officially speak out in France after the start of the MeToo movement to denounce sexual violence. Despite numerous other scandals, France has struggled with the MeToo movement.

Now the cinema world seems to be breaking its silence. There are calls for more control when filming with minors - and male victims of abuse are speaking out.

Since Judith Godrèche's accusations against two well-known directors, the silence seems to be coming to an end. "The image of our idealized fathers is being damaged. Power seems to be almost wavering. Could it be that we are facing the truth? Accepting our responsibility?" the actress asked the illustrious cinema world on the occasion of the awarding of the prestigious César film awards at the end of February . He continued: "I know it's scary: losing scholarships, losing positions, losing your job. I'm scared too."

New lawsuits against well-known directors

At the beginning of February, the actress filed a lawsuit against the well-known directors Benoît Jacquot ("Diary of a Chambermaid") and Jacques Doillon ("The Young Werther") for abuse of a minor under the age of 15 - and triggered a new wave of MeToo: So will now Isild Le Besco ("Sade") takes action against the two filmmakers. In mid-February, another lawsuit against Gérard Depardieu became known, one more on the list of women accusing the actor of sexual assault.

The plaintiff, a 53-year-old decorator, accuses Depardieu of sexually harassing her during the filming of the film "Les Volets verts" (The Green Shutters). Depardieu ("Cyrano von Bergerac", "Asterix and Obelix") has been under investigation since 2020 over allegations of rape.

Hashtag for male abuse victims

Motivated by Godrèche, Aurélien Wiik created the hashtag "

Francis Renaud has now filed a criminal complaint for sexual abuse against the renowned filmmaker André Téchiné ("Wild Hearts", "We Were Witnesses") and a casting director. The incidents are said to have occurred between 1988 and 2004. Téchiné, now 80, commented on this through his lawyer in the newspaper “Le Parisien”.

He regretted having embarrassed him because of his sentimental, clumsy verbal approach. And further: Of course he was wrong at the time when, due to his status as a director, he could not recognize that their relationship was not on equal terms in Renaud's eyes. On the other hand, today he could only express his lack of understanding about this criminal complaint.

Abuse victim becomes figurehead

Godrèche has become the figurehead of a second MeToo wave. In the upper house of the French Parliament, she spoke to the delegation for women's rights and put concrete proposals on the table. The 51-year-old called for the establishment of a commission of inquiry into sexual and sexist violence in the film industry as well as a regulation that requires a neutral speaker when filming with minors so that a child is never left alone on the set. She also wanted “an intimacy coach” for scenes of a sexual nature. This is now common practice on US film shoots.

France's Culture Minister Rachida Dati also found clear words. Creative freedom is important, but we're not talking about art here, we're talking about crime, said the 58-year-old, who was once justice minister.

In the long and moving speech at the César Film Awards, Godrèche alluded to her experiences with Jacquot and Doillon. She spoke of being filmed 45 times with two disgusting hands on her 15-year-old breasts and a director who dragged her into his bed whispering under the pretense of trying to understand who she really was. "Why should we accept that this art that we love so much, this art that unites us, is used as a cover for the illegal trafficking of young girls?" she asked the audience.

The abuse incidents against Godrèche are said to have occurred between 1986 and 1992. A preliminary investigation has been opened against Jacquot, who had a six-year relationship with her that she calls "the story of a kidnapped child." The now 77-year-old says that his relationship with Godrèche was a consensual love story. Jacquot was 40 at the time, Godrèche 14.

He believes he is the victim of a major "communications operation" by the actress and director to draw attention to her series "Icon of French Cinema", available on Arte. Doillon wants to take action against Godrèche for character assassination. His new film "CE2", which was supposed to be released on March 27th, has been postponed until further notice.