French #MeToo Film to Open Cannes Un Certain Regard

French #MeToo Film to Open Cannes Un Certain Regard

Last year, the Cannes Film Festival shrugged off protests by women’s rights groups to open with Maïwenn’s Jeanne du Barry, a period movie starring alleged abuser Johnny Depp as the King of France.

A year and a mini-#MeToo revolution later, Cannes has picked Moi Aussi (Me Too), a short film by French actress turned activist and filmmaker Judith Godrèche to open its Un Certain Regard sidebar.

Best known in the U.S. for the Oscar-nominated Ridicule (1996) and The Man in the Iron Mask (1998), Godrèche became a key figure in France’s #MeToo movement after she accused acclaimed directors Benoit Jacquot and Jacques Doillion of sexually assaulting her when she was a teenager. Both men have denied the claims.

The allegations, and Godrèche’s standing as one of France’s best-known actresses and a beloved former child star, helped bring #MeToo back into the spotlight in France. Her many public appearances — she the stage at the Césars, France’s equivalent of the Oscars, in February to call the French film industry an “incestuous family,” and has addressed France’s parliament and the senate on the issue — have put pressure on the French industry to change. As a result, last week, legislators agreed to launch a government inquiry into sexual and gender-based violence across the country’s film, audiovisual, performing arts, advertising and fashion sectors.

Godrèche’s film features victims of sexual abuse who contacted the actress after she spoke up and made her Instagram public, calling for others to share their stories. Some 6,000 people replied.

“Suddenly, before me was a crowd of victims, a reality that also represented France, so many stories from all social backgrounds and generations,” Godrèche said. “Then the question was, what I was going to do with them? What do you do when you’re overwhelmed by what you hear, by the sheer volume of testimonies?”

Godrèche asked them to gather on a street in Paris for a performance piece led by her daughter, the actress and dancer Tess Barthélemy. Around 1,000 people came. Godrèche collected audio testimony from victims recounting their abuse, which she has constructed into a fragmented soundtrack.

Moi Aussi will premiere ahead of the Un Certain Regard opening ceremony, as well as at the open air Cinéma de la Plage free of charge for the public on May 15.

The 2024 Cannes film festival runs May 14 – 25.

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