French actor urges lawmakers to investigate sex crimes and sexism in the film industry

French actor Judith Godrèche is urging lawmakers to establish a commission to investigate sex crimes and sexism in France’s cinema industry

Jeffrey Schaeffer,Masha Macpherson
Thursday 29 February 2024 18:37 GMT

The woman leading a push for a reckoning about sexual abuse in France's world-renowned cinema industry urged lawmakers Thursday to establish a commission to investigate sex crimes and sexism in the sector.

With French film-making in the spotlight ahead of the Oscars next month, Judith Godrèche gave emotional testimony to a French Senate commission Thursday recalling her own experiences as a young teenager breaking into the industry.

“Everyone knows that in the film industry, an abuser disguised as a director makes little girls suffer so they cry … He then arranges to meet them in an attic room and takes possession of them for real,” Godrèche said in her opening remarks.

Visibly shaken, she said she didn’t know she had the right to say “no.”

Godrèche, who also lived many years in Hollywood, urged an independent inquiry into misconduct in the French industry, the appointment of independent guardians for underage actors on film sets and other proposals to address past abuses and prevent new ones.

She gave a dramatic speech at France’s version of the Oscars last week, calling on those present to “face the truth” about the issue, years after the MeToo movement shook up Hollywood but faced resistance in France.

“I am speaking as loud as I can and trying to push the door as open as possible, and yet nothing is really happening because of the way the system is being built for years and years,'' she said in response to questions from The Associated Press on Thursday.

“I think there is something about French society that is somehow still anchored in” the Middle Ages, she said.

Godrèche, 51, has accused two French directors of raping or sexually abusing her when she was 14 and 15 and they were in their 40s. The men deny wrongdoing. She formally filed a complaint earlier this month, and her actions have prompted other women in the industry to speak out about abuse.

She has also accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault when she was 24. By the time she spoke out, the alleged violence had occurred too long ago to prosecute, according to French news reports.

Godrèche said she felt supported in the U.S. when she spoke about Weinstein but less so in France, where she said directors are still held as sacred and hold tremendous power.

“I am hoping that things will change. Will they change? I only believe in action, not in applause,” she said.


Angela Charlton in Paris contributed.

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