French actor Adele Haenel quits cinema over sexual abuse ‘complacency’

French actor Adele Haenel, who has for years spoken out against sexual abuse in the film industry, announced she was giving up movie acting over the industry's "complacency".

French actor Adele Haenel quits cinema over sexual abuse 'complacency'
French actress Adele Haenel. Photo by BERTRAND GUAY / AFP

Haenel, whose role in Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019) brought her international recognition, also hit out at “the way that cinema cooperates with capitalism”.

The 34-year-old, who has won France’s highest César film award twice, in 2019 went public with a description of sexual assault she suffered at the hands of a film director with whom she worked as a teenager, and who she said had “a hold” over her.

In 2020 she made a noisy exit at the César ceremony in protest against an award for director Roman Polanski who is wanted by the US over statutory rape allegations.

In a letter to culture weekly Télérama first published on Tuesday, Haenel said she wanted to “denounce the general complacency in our industry towards sexual abusers”.

She also said she rejected “how this business collaborates with the global, deadly, ecocidal and racist world order”, capitalism.

In a reference to anti-pension reform protests in France, she said that “we’re waiting to see whether the bigwigs in cinema are counting on the police, just like luxury industry sponsors, to make sure that everything goes well at the Cannes Festival”, the annual film festival that opens next week.

Haenel said “to make this system look desirable is a criminal act”.

In her letter she also mentioned French A-list actor Gerard Depardieu, charged with rape, and Dominique Boutonnat, boss of the national film centre (CNC) who is being investigated for sexual assault, and said the industry had “joined hands to help them save face”.

Haenel said she would now focus on stage acting.

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France to post scores of new gendarmerie units to rural areas

French President Emmanuel Macron has announced plans to create 238 new gendarmerie brigades and employ more than 2,100 gendarmes by 2027, in a bid to fight crime in suburban and rural France.

France to post scores of new gendarmerie units to rural areas

During a visit to Lot-et-Garonne on Monday, Macron presented a plan that he described as “historic” – to set up 238 new gendarmerie brigades between November 2023 and 2027. 

These brigades, which will be staffed through the recruitment of some 2,100 gendarmes, will be concentrated on the edge of cities and in rural areas. 93 will be ‘fixed’ – or based in permanent stations – with each staffed by a dozen or so gendarmes. The remaining 145 will be ‘mobile’, staffed by six gendarmes per station. 

There will be at least one new brigade in each département and overseas territory. 

Macron posted a map of where these gendarmes – who unlike the police are technically part of the army – would be deployed, online. The dark blue dots represent fixed brigades, while the light blue dots represent mobile ones. 

The French Presidency said that the location of each new brigade was decided based on “economic, demographic and operational criteria” – the latter referring to the number of offenses recorded in each area. 

The wider context  

In 2022, Macron’s government has promised to recruit an additional 8,500 law enforcement officers (gendarmes and police) by the end of his second term in office. These new gendarmerie brigades will only account for about a quarter of that. 

The government has also promised to double the number of law enforcement officers focused on policing the roads and public transport through to 2032; and to boost the budget of the Interior Ministry by €15 billion over five years. The government says this extra funding is necessary to deal with evolving crime risks and extra requirements engendered by the hosting of mass events like the Olympic games.  

Extra law-and-order spending comes at a moment of tense relations between the police and the public in France – particularly following the killing of teenager, Nahel M, at point blank range by a police officer in June. 

READ ALSO – Gendarmes to ‘policiers’ – who does what in the French police force?