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by Peter Knegt
February 24, 2010 4:41 AM
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Campion Denies Sexual Harassment Claims Against Indian Film Festival

Jane Campion at a press conference at last year's Cannes Film Festival. Photo by Eugene Hernandez.

The Times of India reported earlier this week that director Jane Campion made complaints to authorities in New Delhi after the husband of an organizer at the India International Women's Film Festival allegedly made "lewd advances" toward both Campion and other women in attendance at the December, 2009 event. The article reported that police are investigating both Campion and Pakistani director Ayesha Arif Khan's complaints.

"According to the complaint sent to the ministry of urban development, the two women have allegedly accused [festival organizer Shyamoli] Banerjee's husband, Bhaskar Deb, of lewd behaviour as well as sexual harassment," the article wrote.

Banerjee denied the allegations in the story. "The complaints are baseless. Neither of the complaints have been shown to us. They are fabrications," she was quoted as saying. Accusing the ministry of deliberately sabotaging the festival, Banerjee added that neither Campion nor Khan had ever complained about her husband's behaviour to her.

Articles like The New Zealand Herald subsequently reported that Campion "described the India International Women's Film Festival as a scandalous fraud, saying she only attended because organisers told her it was being backed by the Ministry of Urban Development," and quoted her written complaint as saying:

"I am not the only filmmaker to be badly treated. Many other women experienced rude and even lewd advances from the husband of the festival director and all felt shocked and angry that such a brazen fraud could be allowed to proceed unimpeded by the Indian authorities."

However, today The Guardian is reporting that Campion is denying these newspaper reports. She issued a statement that said while she was not harassed personally, "she had other issues with what she described as a 'fraudulently presented' festival."

"I was not sexually harassed by the festival director's husband and did not make that allegation," she was quoted in The Guardian as saying. "However at least two other delegates I spoke to and a third I heard about, did have bad experiences with the festival director's husband and I hear they went on to make allegations of sexual harassment. My own experience of the organisers of the film festival was that they made promises to me which they failed to keep: failure to meet me or any of the other delegates that I spoke to on arrival at the airport, failure to pay for my airline tickets, cancelling the premiere of my film 'Bright Star' at the last moment."

She added that "never in my entire experience has a film festival been so fraudulently presented and organised. It's a shame for the film-makers, the audience, the funding bodies of the countries involved as well as the Indian government who, it appears from the advertising, sponsored them to some degree."

The article also reported that supposedly, alleged harasser Bhaskar Deb said that Campion is "a racist from Australia."

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2 Comments

  • melsil | February 24, 2010 9:13 AMReply

    Please tell me why this is a scandal. The Indian papers which are notorious for writing inflammatory crap wrote the story and then everyone else picked up on it. She has now clarified what she complained about so I don't understand why we are making it into a scandal. Based on everything I know about Jane Campion and having met her twice, I'm going to venture a guess that if she was sexually harassed she would be the first to say so. She's one of the only female directors to go n the record about sexism in the business. So let's focus on a real scandal, the lack of opportunities for women directors.

    Melissa Silverstein
    womenandhollywood.com

  • foglifter | February 24, 2010 8:19 AMReply

    After having a huge penis shaped microphone pointing in your face in Cannes last year, you should be ready for anything.