From Polanski to Boutonnat via Berry and Depardieu … A year in hell for French cinema

On the eve of a Caesar ceremony, in reconstruction mode, several emblematic figures of French cinema have been accused or even indicted over the past twelve months. Back to a (long) list of cases.

It was not foreseen in the scenario. Since the furious departure of Adèle Haenel from the Caesar ceremony a year ago, scandals have continued to sweep over French cinema. “It’s a shame», The actress had shouted when she discovered that Roman Polanski was named best director for his film. I accuse. She then left behind a torn family of French cinema. Between those who felt that it was necessary to separate the man – accused of rape – from the artist. And the others. A still hot debate and not only in the cinema if we think today of the torments that contemporary art is going through while the plastic artist Claude Lévêque, is targeted by an investigation for rape of minors. In any case, no one imagined that this Caesar evening would be followed by many scandals to come, like so many aftershocks of the earthquake initiated by the #MeToo movement.

A year later, it is still a case of sexual violence – presumed – which tarnishes the image of French cinema, a few days from the César. The image does not pass: Thursday, March 4, Dominique Boutonnat took the stage for the French Film trophies. He received the honorary prize on behalf of the institution he chairs, the CNC, rewarded for its management of the health crisis. However, the boss of the French cinema is accused of sexual assault and attempted rape by his godson. On February 10, already, the announcement of the César nominations was completely eclipsed by his indictment.

Shortly after, several unions of producers, directors and the CGT-Spectacle demanded the sidelining of the boss of the CNC and the appointment of a new presidency. But the Minister of Culture Roselyne Bachelot believes that it is up to Dominique Boutonnat to judge if he can exercise his functions “In all serenity”. So here he is – for the moment – kept at his post but the unease caused by his presence at the French Film trophies is symptomatic of a crisis of confidence.

Much thought to the “suicide

The facts described by Daniel Boutonnat’s godson date from last August, during a vacation in Greece. Heard by the Nanterre judicial police, the 22-year-old complainant says he was forced to have sex and evokes the memory of this scene as a “torture”. Since this summer, he adds to have “thought about suicide a lot“. During his interrogation, he also speaks of “Some texts” sent to his parents in whom the CNC boss feared to be “A dead man” if the matter became public.

Dominique Boutonnat denies and regrets, through the voice of his lawyer Emmanuel Marsigny, that “His indictment for disputed facts, without any confrontation having been organized reflects a haste that is completely criticized”. “It is however a fundamental right for any person questioned to be able to be confronted with the complainant before a decision of this nature is taken”, added the defender of this close friend of Emmanuel Macron (he was a donor of the presidential campaign) and former classmate of Édouard Philippe at Sciences Po Paris.

The appointment of Dominique Boutonnat to the CNC on July 24, 2019, after a long career in financing cinematographic and audiovisual creation, had sparked an outcry in the community. Nicole Garcia, Arnaud Desplechin, Cédric Klapisch (the same people who are at the origin of the rebellion that led to the renewal of the César academy) … Dozens of directors had co-signed in The world a platform in which they feared the “Patronage” and the “conflicts of interest” generated by the arrival of the one who, moreover, was the author of a controversial report on the financing of the seventh art.

“Putting the law back in a father-daughter relationship”

This accusation targeting the boss of French cinema comes just after the one targeting Richard Berry. His eldest daughter filed a rape and sexual assault complaint against him and his then ex-girlfriend Jeane Manson. Coline Berry-Rojtman, now 45, was heard Thursday February 11 as a witness by investigators from the Paris minors protection brigade. “It was for us to put order in the disorder, to restore the law in a father-daughter relationship that was sorely lacking”, told AFP Karine Shebabo, the lawyer for the actor’s daughter at the end of this hearing. As for Richard Berry, he denies “With all (his) strength and without ambiguity” . “I have never had inappropriate or incestuous relations with Coline, nor with any of my children”, assured the actor in a long text published on his Instagram account on February 2.

Despite the horror of the allegations, Coline Berry-Rojtman says she is ready to “forgive“. “He’s still my father and I love him (…). It is not because we do monstrous things that we are a monster ”, she said at the microphone of Europe 1 Wednesday morning. The alleged victim claimed to have “Reached out dozens and dozens of times” to his father, without his resolving to admit the facts. By filing a complaint, Coline Berry-Rojtman “Hope […] come at a time to a form of peace. “

Another actor in turmoil, the best known of all, Gérard Depardieu. He was indicted on December 16 for “rapes“And”sexual assault»That he would have committed on a young actress. After being dismissed in 2019, the investigation was reopened in October 2020. An actress in her twenties accuses the actor of having abused her twice, on August 7 and 13, 2018, during a rehearsal for a play, at the actor’s Parisian home. Gérard Depardieu defends himself. “There’s no proof I’m innocent and I have nothing to fear», He declared in an interview with the Italian daily La Repubblica. “I will again claim my innocence in court.”

The filmmaker and producer Luc Besson has been accused of rape by a Belgian-Dutch actress for months. He was placed on January 25 under the status of assisted witness. The first complaints against him, dating from 2018, were dismissed by the Paris prosecutor’s office. Judicial information for “rape”Was opened on October 2, 2019 following a complaint with the constitution of civil party. An actress had filed a rape complaint on May 18, 2018 against Luc Besson the day after a meeting with him in a Parisian palace. Two months later, she denounced other rapes and sexual assaults committed during a “professional control relationshipTwo years with the producer, according to his testimony. After this first complaint, eight other women accused the director of Big Blue inappropriate actions or sexual assault, in testimonies collected by Mediapart. But most of the charges were time-barred.

Consciousness examination

In this other dossier which taints French cinema, it is not a question of #MeToo but of big money. His first feature film, Wretched, had been a shock. Jury Prize at Cannes, best film at the César in 2020, everything was going for the best in the best of all possible worlds for Ladj Ly who, on the strength of his success, had opened a film school. A free establishment, which can be accessed without age or diploma conditions. A beautiful story tarnished by an investigation for money laundering, breach of trust, abuse of corporate assets, forgery and false use which targets the director and his brother, Amadou. The two men were taken into custody on Tuesday 8 and Wednesday 10 February. A hearing that follows the search at the end of January of the premises of the association La Cité des arts visuels in Montfermeil which the Ly brothers run. The two men, respectively founder and president of the structure that oversees the Kourtrajmé school, are suspected of embezzlement. According to The Parisian, a sum of 200,000 euros would be at stake. The investigation is continuing.

Put end to end these files, in which the presumption of innocence remains, it should be remembered, cannot translate, by themselves, the current state of French cinema. But they come in the wake of a new rape accusation against Roman Polanski. And Adèle Haenel’s complaint against director Christophe Ruggia, whom she accused in 2019 of “sexual harassment“And”touchingWhen she was a teenager. Two cases that had shaken French cinema which, according to the filmmaker Pierre Jolivet, president of the Civil Society of Authors, Directors and Producers, had to “Urgently to examine his conscience”.

SEE ALSO – What are the real figures of incest in France?


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