Cannes festival director Thierry Fremaux is responding to French actress Adèle Haenel’s claims that the annual festival has supported “sexual aggressors” like director Roman Polanski and actor Gerard Depardieu.
Haenel, who publicly announced her retirement from acting in March 2022, penned an open letter last week slamming the Cannes Film Festival for protecting sexual abusers. “They join hands [to protect] the [Gerard] Depardieus, the [Roman] Polanskis, the [Dominique] Boutonnats,” Haenel wrote. “It bothers them that the victims make too much noise. They preferred that we disappear and die in silence.”
She added that Cannes was “ready to do anything to defend their rapist chiefs” and claimed that the French industry effectively “canceled” its own #MeToo movement.
Now, Cannes festival director Fremaux defended the festival from Haenel’s “radical” and “false” comments.
“She’s very radical, but it’s an erroneous comment,” Fremaux said. “It’s misplaced. She didn’t think that when she came to Cannes unless she suffered from a crazy dissonance. Now she’s speaking in this vein.”
Fremaux continued, “People use the Cannes Film Festival to talk about world problems. I think it’s fine…but you wouldn’t be here complaining that you can’t get tickets if you thought we were all rapists.”
The 2023 Cannes Film Festival sparked controversy after “Jeanne du Barry” starring Johnny Depp was selected as the Opening Night feature. Writer/director/star Maïwenn was accused of assaulting a French journalist; she recently confirmed the allegations.
“I don’t know about the image of Johnny Depp in the U.S.,” Fremaux said. “To tell you the truth, in my life, I only have one rule, it’s the freedom of thinking, and the freedom of speech and acting within a legal framework.”
Fremaux also addressed not including Woody Allen’s “Coup de Chance” or Roman Polanski’s “The Palace” in a previous interview.
“The Polanski, we have not seen it. Woody Allen is a bit special, I saw it without seeing it,” Fremaux said in an interview as translated by IndieWire. “The film was not a candidate. We also know that if his film is shown at Cannes, the controversy would take over against his film, against the other films.”
Allen’s last film to screen at Cannes was 2016’s “Café Society.” Polanski debuted “Based on a True Story” at 2017 Cannes.
“Portrait of a Lady on Fire” actress Haenel walked out of the 2020 César Awards when Polanski was awarded the best director prize for “An Officer and a Spy”; that same year, she 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.