Cannes Film Festival 2024 prepares for potential #MeToo bombshells

While the festival lacks an official protocol for handling sexual harassment accusations, it may consider removing films from competition or disinviting accused individuals from the red carpet

Updated - May 14, 2024 05:21 pm IST

Published - May 13, 2024 05:03 pm IST

French actress Judith Godrèche attends the International Women’s Day event at Paris City Hall. Godrèche’s short film “Moi Aussi” will appear at the 77th Cannes Film Festival

French actress Judith Godrèche attends the International Women’s Day event at Paris City Hall. Godrèche’s short film “Moi Aussi” will appear at the 77th Cannes Film Festival | Photo Credit: LEWIS JOLY

The Cannes Film Festival faces an undercurrent of tension this year as the industry braces for potential bombshell MeToo allegations. The 77th edition of the French film festival will open tomorrow against the backdrop of global unrest, with protests, war, and a burgeoning #MeToo movement in France setting the stage for what’s to come.

Leading the charge is French director and actor Judith Godrèche, who earlier this year came forward with accusations against filmmakers Benoît Jacquot and Jacques Doillon, alleging that they sexually assaulted her during her teenage years. The allegations, vehemently denied by both Jacquot and Doillon, have sent shockwaves through the industry, sparking conversations about systemic abuse and the need for accountability.

“I hope that I’m heard in the sense that I’m not interested in being some sort of representation of someone who just wants to go after everyone in this industry,” Godrèche said ahead of the festival. “I’m just fighting for some sort of change. It is called a revolution.”

Godrèche’s activism has culminated in the creation of Moi Aussi, a short film premiering at Cannes’ Un Certain Regard section. Drawing on the testimonials of numerous women, the film serves as a stark reminder of the pervasive nature of abuse within the film industry and society at large.

“For me, having these faces, these people—everyone in this movie—gives them this place to be celebrated,” Godrèche remarked. “There’s this thing about this place that has so much history. In a way, it mystifies movies forever. Once your film was in Cannes, it was in Cannes”, she said.

Compounding the unease are rumors swirling in France about a secret list containing the names of ten influential men in the industry who are allegedly implicated in abusive behavior towards women.

French newspaper Le Figaro’s recent article, titled “#MeToo: Anxiety Grips Cannes Film Festival,” has sparked intense speculation in the local film industry. The report suggests that several prominent French directors, actors, and producers could face public #MeToo allegations soon.

Cannes Film Festival president Iris Knobloch has reportedly enlisted a crisis management PR firm to prepare for the potential fallout. While the festival lacks an official protocol for handling sexual harassment accusations, it may consider removing films from competition or disinviting accused individuals from the red carpet, depending on the severity of the allegations.

Unlike the César Academy, which bans professionals under official police investigation, Cannes faces a challenge as accusations may lack formal complaints, requiring adherence to the presumption of innocence.

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