In the wake of the Weinstein scandal and in an effort to quash the endemic issue of sexual harassment hardly limited to any one country, France’s Nation Film Board (CNC) launched a three-point plan that would require beneficiaries of financial support from the public film body to undergo sensitivity training sessions, to author detailed preventions protocols and to keep counselors on set.

Though the plan authored in 2019 was targeted at senior level producers and executives – the heads of production outfits asking for public support, in short – the program has subsequently expanded to encompass a wider industry swath. In 2021, the film board tasked the Superior Technical Image Commission (CST) trade guild with running and organizing four separate sessions of differing lengths and focuses, aimed at the wider film production community.

Offering expanded training plans targeting producers, HR representatives, and production manager, among others, the CST held its first two sessions earlier this month, drawing a decidedly mixed response on social media.

“Either this training is useful and why limit it to a single profession, or it is useless, and why impose it on us,” producer and distributor Jean Labadie of Le Pacte tweeted.

“Last Tuesday, I was at the CNC to attend the training ‘Prevent and act against sexist and sexual violence at work,’ without which producers are now deprived of state aid,” tweeted “Benedetta” producer Saïd Ben Saïd. Sharing a series of slides, the veteran producer made clear that he was “very favorable” to its larger mission but took aim at what he called the curriculum’s “infantilizing and counterproductive” approach, singling out a particular slide that stated: “Who can be an abuser? He can be: a good father; an excellent director; kind and attentive with his crews; a bad performer. It’s not [just] monsters or sickos.”

“Through this little masterpiece of silliness, which illustrates quite well the level of the intervention, I wanted to say that this enterprise was badly prepared, badly led and badly supported,” Ben Saïd tweeted. “Good will is undeniable, but it never goes well with ideological opportunism.”

For his part, CST director Baptiste Heynemann said he was unsurprised. “Of course the old world will resist, and if they didn’t we wouldn’t need to have these training sessions,” he told Variety.

“These are grousers, and I would call them people from the old world, no matter their actual age,” Heynemann continued. “The old world doesn’t have an age, doesn’t have a gender, doesn’t have a single socio-professional category. Men can be victims as much as women, of course. But the instigators, no matter the sex of the victim, are 90% of the time men.”

“To those who complain that you don’t have the right to be a straight white man, I want to say: Of course you have the right to all that,” he added. “But on the other hand, 90% of harassment cases stem from that category. So, at a certain point, as part of that overwhelming majority, you need to step up.”

“So I say, grouse away,” said Heynemann. “Take to Twitter and complain all you want, and then come and take the session and you’ll understand.”