France launches crackdown on film companies that refuse to follow strict sexual harassment rules

France launches crackdown on film companies that refuse to follow strict sexual harassment rules after industry was rocked by two abuse scandals in a week

  • Adele Haenel alleged she was sexually harassed by director Christophe Ruggia  
  • Days later Valentin Monnier claimed Roman Polanski raped her at a Swiss chalet
  • French government to bring in new rules for film companies following scandals
  • Film body will withhold state funding for projects if new guidelines are broken 

Adele Haenel claimed Christophe Ruggia ‘forced kisses on the neck’ when she filming with him aged between 12 and 15

The French government are to crackdown on film companies that refuse to follow strict sexual harassment rules in the wake of two major abuse scandals.

In the space of a week two women made allegations that they were attacked by high-profile members of the French film industry.

Actress Adele Haenel last week alleged she was sexually harassed from the age of 12 to 15 by director Christophe Ruggia when she was making her first film.

She claimed he repeatedly sexually harassed her while they worked on the 2002 film The Devils, when Ruggia was between 35 and 38.

Haenel told the media organisation that the director’s behaviour amounted to ‘paedophilia’ and she had been regularly subjected to ‘forced kisses on the neck’ and unwanted physical contact while visiting him during filming. 

Speaking through his lawyers, Ruggia has ‘categorically refuted’ the allegations. 

Just days later, French photographer Valentin Monnier alleged that she was raped in 1975 by French-Polish director Roman Polanski.

She was 18 at the time and alleged he beat her ‘into submission’ at his Swiss chalet and tried to drug her. He also denies any wrongdoing.

French director Christophe Ruggia strongly denied claims of sexual harassment, with his lawyers saying that he 'categorically refuted' any misconduct

French director Christophe Ruggia strongly denied claims of sexual harassment, with his lawyers saying that he ‘categorically refuted’ any misconduct

Emmanuelle Seigner and Roman Polanski attend the Tribute to Roman Polanski. The strongly denies the accusations made by Valentin Monnier

Emmanuelle Seigner and Roman Polanski attend the Tribute to Roman Polanski. The strongly denies the accusations made by Valentin Monnier

Without naming Polanski or Ruggia, France’s culture minister Franck Riester warned that ‘genius is not a guarantee of impunity’ after announcing new measures to deal with sexual harassment and violence in the country’s film industry.

Many are describing the latest allegations as a post-#Metoo moment for the French movie industry.

Riester also announced that companies that fail to ‘prevent and detect sexual harassment’ would be barred from receiving state funding from CNC  – a French government film agency.

A special unit to support victims of sexual harassment in cinema and TV will begin at the start of 2020 and workers will be offered new training in January, according to the Telegraph.

Riester added that film companies should appoint an employee responsible for preventing and detecting sexual harassment on set or in the build up to the release of a movie. 

Haenel said she decided to speak out after hearing that Ruggia is allegedly planning a new film that will feature characters with the same names as the ones Haenel and her co-star had in The Devils. 

French actress Adele Haenel said she came forward with her own sexual assault allegations after seeing the documentary about Michael Jackson, Leaving Neverland, earlier this year

French actress Adele Haenel said she came forward with her own sexual assault allegations after seeing the documentary about Michael Jackson, Leaving Neverland, earlier this year 

The 30-year-old added that she decided to speak up after watching the controversial Michael Jackson documentary Leaving Neverland that featured two alleged victims of the late pop star telling in graphic detail how they had sexually abused them over several years.

In an open letter to a French newspaper last Friday, Monnier said she was speaking out because of her disgust that Polanski was comparing himself to the hero of his new film, An Officer and a Spy – Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish officer wrongly persecuted by the French army at the turn of the 20th century.

Polanski has fiercely denied the accusations and has threatened to sue.

With some feminists calling for a boycott of the movie, Riester said that a ‘work of art, no matter how great, does not excuse the eventual sins of its author’.

‘Talent is not an extenuating circumstance,’ he said before warning against convicting anyone in the ‘courtroom of public opinion’.