Oscar-winning actress Marion Cotillard is one of the many French film figures who have applauded fellow actress Adele Haenel (“Portrait of a Lady on Fire”) for speaking out about the sexual harassment she has said she was subjected to from the age of 12.
In an article published Sunday on the investigative website Mediapart, Haenel said that Christophe Ruggia, who directed her in the 2002 drama “The Devils” (“Les diables”), repeatedly made advances toward her, including unwanted touching and kisses, and harassed her from the age of 12 to 15. “The Devils” was the first film she starred in.
In a post on her Instagram account, Cotillard wrote: “Your courage is a gift of unmatched generosity for women and for men, for the young actresses and actors, for all those who have been damaged and now know thanks to you that they don’t have to suffer this violence. And for those who have suffered it, that they can speak, they will be listened to and heard. You break a silence so deafening.
“Your testimony is increasingly powerful. It resonates profoundly. Dear Adele, you are marking history. The history of this liberating revolution. Our history and our children’s,” wrote Cotillard.
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Adèle Ton courage est un cadeau d’une générosité sans pareil pour les femmes et les hommes, pour les jeunes actrices et acteurs, pour tous les êtres abimés qui savent maintenant grâce à toi qu’ils n’ont pas a subir cette violence. Et pour ceux qui l’ont subie, qu’ils peuvent parler, ils seront écoutés et entendus. Tu brises un silence si lourd. Ton témoignage est d’une puissance inouïe. Il résonne profondément. Chère Adèle, Tu marques l’histoire. L’histoire de cette révolution libératrice. Notre histoire et celle de nos enfants. J’ai une gratitude infinie envers toi.
Haenel’s testimony has made a significant impact in the industry. Ruggia was expelled from the French directors’ guild (SRF) almost immediately after the story was published in Mediapart. The SRF’s board members include well-known directors including Jacques Audiard, Celine Sciamma and Rebecca Zlotowski. Several other film organizations have also issued statements in support of Haenel, including the French film promotion body UniFrance.
Although there have been several famous French actresses, including Isabelle Adjani, who have come forward to speak about sexual harassment in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal and the emergence of the #metoo movement, Haenel is the first prominent French actress to have named her alleged harasser. She said she didn’t plan on filing a lawsuit against Ruggia but wanted to give her testimony to help other victims break the “omertà.”
Haenel, 30, is one of France’s biggest stars. She has two Cesar awards and most recently headlined Sciamma’s “Portrait of a Lady on Fire,” which won the screenwriting prize at Cannes this year.
Mediapart previously published a lengthy investigation based on actress Sand Van Roy’s allegations of sexual harassment and assault against EuropaCorp founder and filmmaker Luc Besson.