French Culture Ministry, Film Board Unveil Guidelines to Fight Sexual Harassment

Elsa Keslassy

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The French movie industry has been shaken up by the declarations of Adele Haenel, one of the country’s most powerful actresses, who accused the director Christophe Ruggia of having sexually harassed her for years from the time she was 12.

On top of sparking a public debate, Haenel’s testimony has driven the French culture ministry and the national film board, the CNC, to come up with new guidelines to curb sexual harassment and violence, as well as increase gender parity in the film and TV industry.

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Franck Riester, France’s culture minister, unveiled several measures to combat sexual harassment and abuse, such as making the inclusion of programs aimed at preventing and detecting harassment mandatory for companies seeking subsidies.

During a speech he gave Thursday at a conference on gender parity and diversity, Riester also said he was in favor of having on-site counselors during shoots, along with other initiatives suggested by the director Rebecca Zlotowski, a member of the SRF directors’ guild and the 5050×2020 movement, which co-hosted the conference.

The CNC will also soon announce the launch of workshops for employers in the cinema and audiovisual sector to help them put in place mechanisms to prevent inappropriate behavior in schools, on shoots, in studios and during the promotion of films.

“The film and TV industries have a particular responsibility. By conditioning the CNC subsidies we are taking strong measures to fight against violence and harassement,” said Dominique Boutonnat, the president of the CNC. “Beyond these, ensuring parity at all levels, including in key roles, is also a powerful accelerator of change.”

After getting festival directors and most recently distributors and exhibitors to sign a pledge to ensure greater gender equality, diversity and transparency, the 5050×2020 movement got most major guilds to sign a pledge during Thursday’s conference to increase diversity in French films and TV programs, both in front of and behind the camera.

The French guild of authors, directors and producers, the ARP, whose membership is 87% male, has not yet signed the inclusion pledge. The API, the independent producers guild presided by Gaumont CEO and chairman Sidonie Dumas, has not signed either.

Meanwhile, the president of France Televisions, Delphine Ernotte Cunci, announced that the broadcaster will be enforcing quotas starting next year to increase the proportion of audiovisuel content directed by women and commissioned by France Televisions. According to a CNC study, 88% of the directors of all audiovisual content in France are men.

The CNC already launched last year a scheme to give a 15% bonus in subsidies to films whose crews are made up of as many women as men. So far, 29 films have benefited from the bonus.

Reacting to Haenel’s decision to speak out, Ernotte also said there will be on-site counselors to prevent sexual harassment on every shoot of TV series.

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