Less than a day after being accused of having sexually harassed actress Adele Haenel starting when she was 12, filmmaker Christophe Ruggia was expelled from the French directors’ guild.
The removal of Ruggia from the Societé des Realisateurs de Films (SRF) follows the publication of an investigative report in the French website Mediapart in which Haenel alleges that Ruggia, who directed her in her first film, the 2002 drama “The Devils” (“Les diables”), exerted control over her and repeatedly made sexual advances when she was between the ages of 12 and 15.
The directors’ guild said: “The SRF is giving its full support, its admiration and recognition to Adele Haenel, who had the bravery to express herself after all these years of silence. We wish to tell her that we trust her and are taking note of [her account] immediately, without sparing our own responsibility and without avoiding to question ourselves collectively.”
The organization said the “vast majority of members within the administration board knew nothing about this story; some knew the controlling dynamic from the past, and no one knew the sexual aspect of this case.”
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The SRF, whose members include Jacques Audiard, Rebecca Zlotowski, Catherine Corsini, Bertrand Bonello and Celine Sciamma, also said that it would strive to “understand and shed light on the mechanism of impunity,” in line with what Haenel told Mediapart she hoped to achieve by speaking publicly about her experiences.
Ruggia has denied the allegations, calling them defamatory. In a statement to Mediapart, he said that he and Haenel had enjoyed a “professional and affectionate” relationship. Variety has asked Ruggia’s representatives for comment.
Haenel, who is now 30 and has become one of France’s most successful actresses, with two Cesar awards under her belt, told Mediapart that she nearly quit acting after being abused by Ruggia. She returned after a long break in Sciamma’s “Water Lilies” (“Naissance des pieuvres”), which marked her second film.
Haenel most recently headlined Sciamma’s “Portrait of a Lady on Fire.” The critically acclaimed film won the screenwriting prize at Cannes this year.
The SRF has been actively promoting gender parity in the industry through the involvement of some its members, including Sciamma, Zlotowski and Audiard, in the 50/50 by 2020 movement.