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Star calls on French film industry to ‘face the truth’ on sexual violence

Judith Godreche was speaking during a live broadcast of the Cesar Awards ceremony.

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Judith Godreche

French actress Judith Godreche has called on France’s film industry to “face the truth” on sexual violence and physical abuse during a live broadcast of the Cesar Awards ceremony, France’s version of the Oscars.

Godreche said: “We can decide that men accused of rape no longer rule the (French) cinema.”

Godreche was invited to speak on sexual violence at the ceremony after actresses alleged they were teenage victims of sexual abuse by directors decades older than themselves, shining a light on the repulsive underside of the country’s industry.

“Is it possible that we are able to face the truth?” Godreche said during an emotional speech to a hushed audience. “Let’s have the courage to say out loud what everyone is thinking.”

She added later: “The power seems to be swaying.”

The audience stayed silent until the end of her appearance, but then erupted into thunderous applause in a standing ovation.

Her speech comes as French cinema is expected to shine next month at the Oscars ceremony with Justine Triet’s courtroom drama Anatomy Of A Fall.

Godreche, 51, is well known to French cinemagoers. She recently accused two film directors of rape and sexual abuse when she was a teenager. She formally filed a complaint earlier this month, the Paris prosecutor said.

She is accusing film director Benoit Jacquot, with whom she had a six-year relationship that started when she was 14, of rape and physical abuse. Jacquot, a prominent director in France, is 25 years her senior.

Judith Godreche
Judith Godreche received a standing ovation (Petros Giannakouris/AP)

She is also accusing another film director, Jacques Doillon, of sexual abuse while he was directing a film when she was 15. Doillon is 28 years older than her.

Both Jacquot and Doillon have denied the allegations.

Hours before the ceremony, French cultural minister Rachida Dati criticised the country’s cinema for “collectively turning a blind eye for decades” to sexual violence. She hailed Godreche’s courage to speak out and for sharing her traumatic experience.

Godreche had previously spoken about her relationship with Jacquot, without naming him, in an autobiographical television show called Icon Of French Cinema that was released in December.

Jacquot told the Le Monde newspaper that he “doesn’t feel directly concerned” by Godreche’s accusations, with whom he said he fell in love at the time. He denied any abuse of authority.

In a statement to international news agency Agence France-Presse, Doillon said “the just cause doesn’t justify arbitrary denunciations, false accusations and lies”.

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