“If we do not accept the predators’ proposals, obviously we are blacklisted from cinema”

“If we do not accept the predators’ proposals, obviously we are blacklisted from cinema”
“If we do not accept the predators’ proposals, obviously we are blacklisted from cinema”

As the Cannes Film Festival opened this Tuesday, May 14, many activists, victims and supporters plan to celebrate the end of impunity in the cinema industry. After the speech of Judith Godrèche and her complaint against the directors Benoît Jacquot and Jacques Doillon for acts of “rape of minors”, 150 personalities signed a petition demanding a “comprehensive law” against sexual and gender-based violence.

Nine women testified in Elle magazine against film producer Alain Sarde. All accuse him of serious crimes: rape, sexual assault, harassment and even attempted pimping. Some of them were minors at the time of the events. The facts denounced date back from 1980 to the 2000s. Among the testimonies, the actress Annelise Hesme agreed to speak openly. Interview.

In 2001, the 25-year-old actress went to the offices of Alain Sarde on the advice of her agent who explained to her that the great film producer was enchanted by her scenes in the film “Parlez-moi d’amour ” by Sophie Marceau. During this interview, Alain Sarde did not offer the actress a role but made her a proposition of a completely different nature: “I organize dinners with actors, directors, distributors. They like to have at their table pretty women with wit, like you Of course, it’s paid, and then if, among the lot, there is one you like, you are free to make more money. The evening…”.

What was your first reaction after this interview?

I called my sister (Clotilde Hesme, editor’s note), who was at the conservatory at the time, to dissuade her from becoming an actress. I was shocked, disgusted to the point of wanting to stop doing this job. I took a step back from the world of cinema and became a mother. Subsequently, I had an offer from Oliver Stone to play in “Alexander” and I accepted it. Deep down, I knew that it was a job that I loved, in which there were also great people. We also come across them, otherwise, I would not have stayed in this hell.

Subsequently, you turned to television, was it by choice?

The problem in the world of cinema is that power is exercised vertically. It is often a big boss who decides everything. In my 25-year career, on almost every shoot, and particularly on film shoots, something has happened to me. I found refuge on TV. I was offered some great roles and I accepted. Honestly, when you’re a single mother at 25 and blacklisted from the cinema, you’re happy to find this space. But I have the impression that this “refuge” is cracking. When I learned in the Elle investigation that a producer who was supposed to testify against Alain Sarde finally withdrew for fear of no longer being able to sell her programs, I understood that we are not safe anywhere .

When you relate your experience with Alain Sarde to your agent, you say that she warns you with the following words: “Listen, he’s the biggest producer in Paris. It’s his word against yours. You come to start, if you want it to stop now, go ahead, go to the cops!” Is this an attempt at deterrence?

“Dissuade, kindly or not, I don’t know. Was she aware? Was she not aware? (Alain Sarde was indicted for rape and attempted rape in July 1997 and briefly incarcerated in prison of Health. He will subsequently benefit from a dismissal order, editor’s note).

What emerges in the Elle magazine investigation is the total collusion of the industry with these men who abuse their power.

“Absolutely. It was an open secret. As for Gérard, it was ‘ah well yes, it’s Gérard’. For Alain Sarde, it was the same thing. ‘Alain, you have to refuse dinners, you have to this, we must do that’. Obviously he had support from all walks of life. He got through it because he had powerful support.

And they were protean supports…

“What I would like to reiterate in my speech is that this is not a war of women against men. We must stop dividing on this. It is just a question of power. It must be said that this system is no longer viable, it is not throwing out lists (reference to the rumor about the alleged existence of a list of ten names of actors, directors and producers accused of sexual violence in the world. cinema industry denied by Médiapart, editor’s note).

This list is completely crazy. It’s a backlash. It comes from a dark conspiratorial account to create a sort of buzz against feminists by giving the feeling that we are on a witch hunt when it is us who are the witches and it is us who we want to burn. In France, when we break an omerta, we are punished.”.

You emphasize that you know many women victims…

I know a lot of women who didn’t want to testify, a lot of women who are afraid… But I’m afraid too. Courage is not the absence of fear. It’s the ability to deal with it. There are days when I face it. Others, less so. We alternate between the urgency of talking about it because it must, it must not happen again, and the peace of silence. I was also happy in my life, in peace, in silence, not talking about all these abuses. And then, we’re afraid, because we don’t work afterwards.”

Judith Godrèche notably declared, after speaking out and filing her complaint, that her career is surely over

In cinema, when we do not accept this kind of proposal or when we denounce this kind of behavior, because I remind you, he is not the only one (Alain Sarde, editor’s note), obviously we are blacklisted. They talk among themselves and what they say is: ‘She’s crazy.’ Mad, that means we don’t participate in the system. Sexist and sexual violence is systemic. And added: “What you need to know is that impunity is the norm. Omerta and impunity are so strong that it’s a bit like Voltaire said: ‘There is abuses that occur, they remain unpunished and they become customary’.

Do you think we are on the path to change?

“I don’t know if the system is going to change or not. I think it’s going to be a splash in the pond and I’m going to work even less than before. But I’m not afraid. If the system changes, I don’t think not that I would be there to see it Everyone knows the characters in the community, everyone knows that there are abuses,… They are strong in the face, the wall is very solid. These are networks that support each other. Even if I were a lawyer, I couldn’t change things. If I testify openly, it is to prevent people from thinking that these are rumours, they do not dare. I did it to validate the testimony of other women who have experienced terrible things. Alice Augustin (the journalist who carried out the investigation for Elle, editor’s note) did not inform me at all of the other testimonies. I knew it was serious and that I had to validate their word.”

What do you think society’s response should be?

“All this serves to say ‘stop, enough is enough’. We want real laws against sexist and sexual violence. We must stop with this impunity and give real sanctions. We must stop with the dismissals. No- place, that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. It’s a world of compromise where they all protect each other.

Should roadmaps be given? (in reference to Vincent Lindon’s call, editor’s note), I don’t think so. The mental burden on women is already quite high. Give roadmaps why? To explain that feminism is just humanism. It’s masculinism that kills every day, not feminism. We must move forward together, it’s just humanism. We need to stop being afraid of that word.”

The magazine ELLE specifies in its investigation that Alain Sarde was informed “of these detailed and circumstantial accusations”. Through his lawyer, Maître Jacqueline Laffont, the producer denies these accusations. “Alain Sarde is outraged and devastated by these allegations, all of which are false, which attribute to him behaviors that he disapproves of and which are totally foreign to him. He refutes them with the greatest firmness and affirms that he has never used the slightest violence or constraint in his relationships with women whose consent has always been essential for him.”

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