Adèle Haenel Criticizes French Film Industry’s Support of ‘Sexual Aggressors’ Like Roman Polanski

"They join hands [to protect] the [Gerard] Depardieus, the [Roman] Polanskis, the [Dominique] Boutonnats," the "Portrait of a Lady on Fire" star said.
Adele Haenel attends the closing ceremony screening of "The Specials" during the 72nd annual Cannes Film Festival
Adele Haenel
Getty Images

“Portrait of a Lady on Fire” actress Adèle Haenel is calling out the French film industry for supporting known sexual abusers.

Haenel wrote an op-ed letter for French publication Télérama in which she denounced the “general complacency” toward “sexual aggressors” like actor Gerard Depardieu, who was recently accused of sexual misconduct by 13 women, and director Roman Polanski, who raped then-13-year-old Samantha Geimer in 1977.

“They join hands [to protect] the [Gerard] Depardieus, the [Roman] Polanskis, the [Dominique] Boutonnats,” Haenel wrote (via The Hollywood Reporter). “It bothers them that the victims make too much noise. They preferred that we disappear and die in silence.”

Doubling down on her retirement from movies, she added that the French industry has effectively “canceled” its own #MeToo movement over the years, writing, “You have the money, the strength, and all the glory [but] you won’t have me as a spectator. I cancel you from my world.”

Haenel previously accused French director Christophe Ruggia of sexually assaulting her when she was 12 years old on the set of “The Devils.” Ruggia denied the 2020 charges and has yet to face trial after being formally indicted. That same year, Haenel walked out of the César Awards when Polanski was awarded the best director prize for “An Officer and a Spy”; Haenel yelled “shame!” while leaving alongside “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” director Céline Sciamma. Haenel has not appeared onscreen since the 2019 queer period piece.

In 2022, Haenel first announced she was exiting the film industry as a whole.

I don’t make films anymore because of political reasons,” Haenel said at the time. “Because the film industry is absolutely reactionary, racist, and patriarchal. We are mistaken if we say that the powerful are of goodwill, that the world is indeed moving in the right direction under their good and sometimes unskillful management. Not at all. The only thing that moves society structurally is social struggle. And it seems to me that in my case, to leave is to fight. By leaving this industry for good, I want to take part in another world, in another cinema.”

Haenel concluded, “If I stayed today in this film industry, I would be a kind of feminist guarantee to this masculine and patriarchal industry. My dream is to make it clear: This industry defends a capitalist, patriarchal, racist, sexist world of structural inequality. This means that this industry works hand in hand with the global economic order, in which all lives are not equal.”

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