Actress Judith Godrèche denounces “impunity” in cinema at the César Awards | Culture


His words resonated in a packed room, just as they found echo in French society in recent days. The actress Judith Godrèche, who at the beginning of February denounced two filmmakers for having raped her as a teenager, criticized this Friday “the impunity” that prevails in the seventh art. Her presence at the 49th edition of the César Awards, the French film ceremony in which she triumphed Anatomy of a fall, by Justine Triet, was highly anticipated. During a brief but applauded speech, she urged the French audiovisual world to assume its responsibility for the abuses committed against underage performers.

“Is it possible for us to look the truth in the face? Let us assume our responsibilities? Be the actors of a world that is questioned? I have been talking and talking for a long time, but I don’t listen to them, or I barely listen to them. Where are they? “What do they say?” asked the 51-year-old actress, in a contest that was held under the shadow of new accusations of sexual violence. “Why accept that this art that unites us is used as illicit trafficking of girls?” she questioned.

The ceremony awarded six awards to the judicial drama Anatomy of a fallYoincluding best film and leading actress, for Sandra Hüller. Its director, Justine Triet, also became the second woman to win the award for best director in the history of French cinema, after Tonie Marshall in 2000. In May, she had already been the third woman in history to win the Palme gold from the Cannes festival. The only Spanish nominee for the César, filmmaker Gala Hernández López, won the trophy for best short documentary with fluid mechanics. The animal kingdom, by Thomas Cailley, won five statuettes. The honorary award was received by director Christopher Nolan and actress Agnès Jaoui.

Actress Sandra Hüller (from behind, left) receives congratulations from Justine Triet after winning the award for best leading lady.BENOIT TESSIER (REUTERS)

“I want to dedicate this César to all women,” declared Triet after receiving the awards. And he added: “To those who feel trapped in their choices, in their loneliness, to those who exist too much and those who do not exist enough, to those who succeed and those who fail and, finally, to those who have been hurt.” and they have freed themselves by talking. And to those who can’t.”

His statements were a nod to those of Godrèche, who in recent weeks became the protagonist of a kind of second MeToo in the country. The interpreter’s testimony once again shook a sector that was already convulsed by the allegations of rape and sexual assault against Gérard Depardieu. The actor has also been publicly accused of sexual violence by fifteen women and has faced harsh criticism for his misogynistic comments.

Final photo with all the winners on the stage of the Olympia theater.
Final photo with all the winners on the stage of the Olympia theater.BENOIT TESSIER (REUTERS)

Godrèche’s testimony evidenced other types of abuses. Those that are committed or have been committed against underage girls, under the pretext of helping them make their way into the world of cinema. It happened to her when she met the director Benoît Jacquot. She was barely 14 years old when she began a relationship with this filmmaker, who was 39 at the time. “I just realized. This thing, consent, I never gave it. No. Never ever,” she declared in a letter to his daughter. At the beginning of February, after shortly before premiering a television series in which he recounted this stage of his life, he denounced him for the rape of a minor. He also did it the same day against another director of the same generation, Jacques Doillon.

With her words, the actress opened the doors to accusations from other performers against both directors, who reject the facts. One of them, Isild Le Besco, denounced the “destructive dominion” that Jacquot exercised over her, when she was 16 years old. In her speech during the César gala, Godrèche, who was one of the first to denounce an attempted rape by producer Weinstein in 2017, claimed to have received more than 2,000 testimonies in four days, in an email which he created expressly for this. He did not specify the content of the emails.

“Collective blindness”

French cinema has experienced “a collective blindness” that “has lasted for years,” denounced the Minister of Culture, Rachida Dati, in an interview published this Friday, seven years after the start of the MeToo movement in the United States. Godrèche “says very simple things. She is telling us: ‘She was a girl. “Everyone saw it and no one said anything,” she added. The relationship was not secret and even enjoyed tolerance in a society that, today, looks at itself in the mirror.

Dozens of people demonstrated before the gala, held at the Olympia hall in Paris, called by unions and feminist associations. Among them was the actress Anna Mouglalis, who accused Doillon and director Philippe Garrel of sexual assault, before declaring that he was “very happy that this movement exists.”

Christopher Nolan, with the honorary award.
Christopher Nolan, with the honorary award.CHRISTOPHE PETIT TESSON (EFE)

France has had a complex relationship with MeToo. In 2018, a forum signed by 100 French artists and intellectuals, including the actress Catherine Deneuve, claimed the “freedom to bother” essential for sexual freedom and warned about the repercussions that the new climate could have on cultural production. Things, since then, have gone in another direction, as in 2020, when actress Adèle Haenel shook the sector by shouting “La honte!, la honte!” (Shame!) and leaving the room when it was announced that the César for best director went to director Roman Polanski.

Since then, the multiplication of complaints and testimonies of sexual violence have forced the world of cinema to carry out an exercise of introspection. What has changed? A year ago, the Film Academy prohibited the participation in the gala of any professional accused or convicted of violent acts. The organization also began a renewal process after criticism of a lack of parity and diversity.

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