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French Producers Sign #MeToo Agreement

French Producers Sign #MeToo Agreement

In another sign that the #MeToo movement is transforming the birthplace of cinema, France’s film producers and actors unions on Friday unanimously approved new measures aimed at preventing gender-based and sexual violence and harassment within the industry.

Several French industry associations, including the union of independent producers, the association of independent producers, the union of cinema producers, and the professional union of dramatic artists approved an amendment to their collective agreement which will require mandatory harassment training for producers and enforce the protection of minors on film sets, among other measures.

The new measures follow an announcement by the French film board, the CNC, that it will make similar requirements a condition for receiving government subsidies. Given the importance of CNC funding for most French movies, this ensure these #MeToo measures will become standard practice across the French industry. The CNC will launch harassment training programs this summer.

But the CNC is also under fire on the issue. CNC president Dominique Boutonnat will face trial in June on sexual assault allegations, which he denies. A petition calling for his immediate dismissal has been signed by more than 500 members of the French industry and demonstrators held a protest outside CNC headquarters in Paris on May 13 demanding Boutonnat be suspended until the conclusion of his criminal trial.

The CNC has defended its decision to stand by Boutonnat but CNC deputy general director Olivier Henrard had acknowledged the trial adds “an element of complexity” for the film board as it rolls out its new anti-abuse measures.

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Initially, there was widespread resistance to #MeToo in France, but the movement has caught fire in recent months thanks to high-profile allegations against prominent French stars, including Gérard Depardieu, who will stand trial in October on charges of sexual assault brought by two women who claim he assaulted them on set of the film The Green Shutters in 2021. (Depardieu denies all charges.)

French filmmaker turned activist Judith Godrèche (The Man in the Iron Mask) has been a key figure. She has spoken publicly about her own experiences of being groomed by much older directors when she was a teenage star during the 1980s and her speeches on the issue to France’s parliament led directly to the current changes. Godrèche’s short film Moi Aussi (Me Too), inspired by stories of abuse she received from more than 6,000 victims, opened Cannes’ Un Certain Regard sidebar on Wednesday.

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