“The Festival Cannot Not Act”: Cannes Festival Starts a Hotline to Report Sexual Harassment and Assault
Cannes Film Festival is partnering with Marlene Schiappa, the French women’s equality minister, to address sexual harassment and assault at the festival. The partnership will instill a phone line “to report any incidents of harassment or assault”, and as of now there are no other details. The festival is set to run next month, from May 8th to the 19th.
It’s a good thing that Cannes is trying to address and respond to the problems #MeToo has brought forward. “One of the rapes that Harvey Weinstein is accused of happened at Cannes, and so the festival cannot not act,” said Schiappa, in reference to testimonies from Asia Argento’s testimony where the actress said Weinstein (whose “King of Cannes” nickname now has some really horrendous connotations) raped her at the Hotel du Cap in 1997. While upsetting and unsurprising, there are, however, more stories of this kind. Samantha Panagrosso also stated the producer groped and assaulted her at Cannes in 2003 and Zoe Brock also claims she was assaulted by Weinstein in 1997.
Still, something we’ve seen in the stories about women who’ve been abused by powerful men is that the problem has many factors. Many of these instances have been “open secrets” or known by many. Many victims and survivors tried to report their abusers, only to be faced with apathy, disdain, and attacks on their careers. So if the hotline is really to be effective, there needs to be a stronger plan of action. What will happen after an attack or incident is reported? How will it affect the festival’s treatment of the accused, and will there be genuine consequences?
The hotline is an absolutely positive thing, and to their credit the festival has worked recently to include a more diverse lineup with Cate Blanchett as Cannes Jury President. Still, it is difficult not to be skeptical when the festival has a history of sexist dress codes that required women to wear high heels, had standing ovations for Woody Allen with zero questions, and is currently gearing for a Lars “I understand Hitler” Von Trier comeback.
We hope that when Cannes artistic director Thierry Fremaux said, “The Cannes Film Festival will never be the same again,” he meant it.
(via The Hollywood Reporter, image: Cannes Film Festival)
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