Thierry Fremaux Responds to Rumors of #MeToo Reckoning at Cannes: These ‘Polemics Don’t Concern’ the Festival

Thierry Fremaux Responds to Rumors of #MeToo Reckoning at Cannes: These ‘Polemics Don’t Concern’ the Festival

Thierry Fremaux addressed France’s #MeToo reckoning during a press conference on the eve of this year’s Cannes Film Festival.

Following rumors that the French outlet Mediapart is putting together a bombshell report to publish during Cannes with several new #MeToo allegations, there has been much speculation regarding how it will impact the festival.

Alluding to the massive backlash last year over the selection of Maiwenn’s Johnny Depp movie “Jeanne du Barry” on opening night, Fremaux suggested he and Cannes president Iris Knobloch ensured the 77th edition wouldn’t include any obvious red flags, and said the ongoing “polemics” had nothing to do with the festival.

“Last year, as you know, we had a few polemics, and we realized it, and so this year we decided to host a festival without polemics to make sure that the main interest for us all to be here is cinema,” Fremaux said. “So if there are other polemics, it doesn’t concern us.”

Fremaux said there might be some controversies during the festival, “but we try to avoid them.” He said his selection work is still driven by artistic criteria rather than concerns over #MeToo scandals. “It’s about the movies and whether they deserve or not, in aesthetic or artistic terms, to be there,” Fremaux continued. “There is no ideology guiding the selection committee.”

However, Fremaux addressed the potential impact of #MeToo on the type of movies being made.

“We’ll talk about it in five years. I may not be there any longer, but will there be self-censorship coming from artists?” he asked. “What’s happening today, with the new social relationships, and the rapports between women and men in the world, will it spur new type of stories?”

He pointed out historical events have shaped film over the years, for instance in the aftermath of WWII and in the 1960s. “They were not the type of movies we do today,” he said. “These are discussions that we have with people who buy, produce and distribute films. There might be a momentary influence, because there are cycles of creation.”

The #MeToo movement in France has heated up in the past year, with actor Gerard Depardieu facing a trial over sexual assault allegations and actress Judith Godreche filing complaints against two directors, Jacques Doillon and Benoit Jacquot, for alleged rape. Godreche will be at Cannes Film Festival presenting her short film, “Moi Aussi,” about the #MeToo movement.

Labor unrest is also on the horizon this year, with the French collective “Sous les écrans la dèche” calling for a strike. The organization is protesting against pending changes in labor policies that will see their unemployment indemnities slashed by more than half. The organization brings together hundreds of workers at festivals, from projectionists to drivers and caterers.

Last week, the festival issued a statement responding to the strike threat, encouraging all parties to “come together around the bargaining table.”

“Faced with this situation, we hope that solutions will be found, and are prepared to set up lasting dialogue conditions to support them,” the statement read.

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