Scripts, costume designers …: "We are afraid of being blacklisted"

This moment, they had waited for a long time. The denunciation, by the actress Adèle Haenel, of the harassment and the sexual assaults that it imputes to the director Christophe Ruggia when she was only a teenager made the effect of an earthquake among the workers of the cinema. Of those who highlight the relationship "creator-creature" that can maintain some filmmakers with their actresses. Two years after the Weinstein affair, would it be time for a #MeToo of French cinema? Tuesday, Mediapart announced that he had received numerous testimonies from victims from all walks of life, a sign ofemancipatory reach » the testimony of the young actress still on the bill Portrait of the girl on fire from Céline Sciamma. At Eva (1), assistant director, this story acted like an electroshock: "Listening to him made me cryTears are still not far off when she talks about it. In Europe, as many as six out of ten women have one day been confronted with sexual and sexual violence in their professional life, according to an Ifop survey for the Jean-Jaurès Foundation, which was made public in mid-October. According to this same work, during the previous year, 18% of French women had suffered sexual harassment or sexism in the course of their work. The cinema is obviously not spared.


"On filming, we are often away from home for several weeks or even months. We work hard, as a team, we support each other, we celebrate … The other side of the coin is the side "Lassie, faithful dog", which makes you unable to speak, for fear of being seen as the one that sabotages everything"Eva analyzes. A few years ago, the young woman was harassed for six months by her direct boss on a set. "He was hounding me. Until now, I did not know if I was able to talk about it. But I would not want to do itShe continues. The man alternates declarations of love, proposals and public humiliations. "I have the impression to have understood what the battered women live, somehow: you are told that you're a shit, then you seek recognition in his eyes … It's hellish", she recalls. In the end, Eva's only way out was to refuse to work with this man afterwards. This episode pushed her to develop strategies to protect herself: "I'm kind of shy, I started to play the jug that does not reach, then to make ass jokes. It keeps people at bay because it destabilizes them. "

Read also Sexism and abuse in the cinema: the end of the off-field?

Since the break-up of the Weinstein affair, on the plateaux, many women are waving a cautionary cue in case of abusive behavior: "Be careful, you're coming to #MeToo." "I see it more as a fear of being blamed now that the word of women is free, a real awareness among men with abusive behavior", laments Caroline Jegou, dressmaker. "Sexist remarks are always supposed to be petty, so it's very complicated to know how to react," adds Sophie (1), head costume designer. Especially for those who are too often considered as simple "Little hands, which can be gratified from hands to buttocks and platter humor," she continues. She remembers her first shoot: "It was my very first day in the cinema. A technician asked me if I knew that I had to sleep to succeed in this environment. "


However, these testimonials are rare and difficult to assume. Thus, while welcoming a release of speech in the last two years, many of our interlocutors have requested anonymity, lest their careers suffer. "If you look well, for two years, not a single technician has expressed. Because we do not bring funding to a film, so it's like we do not have the power; that we are intermittent, therefore fearful; and we do not have a strong union with the costume designers, regrets Sophie. I'm afraid it's not going to change: there are so many of us working, we have no leverage, and there are not many places. So we do not make waves. "

"The fact of exercising a highly coveted profession can complicate the already difficult voice of victims, abounds Julie Darfeuil, script. In addition to a question of male domination, it is also a form of social domination that is at work, and which leads to a fear of not reworking, of being blacklisted. "

The same goes for dressmaker Caroline Jegou: "Imagine, if you have a problem with a comedian, it is not he who will leave, because it would generate a financial loss for the production. We, conversely, we are "only" dressers or makeup artists …In many cases, she is forced togrit one's teethFor the duration of a shoot. And to supportimposed nudity(At the frequency probably exacerbated by the physical proximity induced by his profession), the invitations of actors to join them in their hotel room, the perverse tricks of those who claim not to be able to close their fly alone to provoke a contact close unwanted …

Read also Sexism in the cinema: the new generation on the alert

"I have known actors who have allowed themselves to make advances to me, because of the power they feel invested: some feel irreplaceable, more important, recalls Elise (1), a makeup artist for more than thirty-five years. It can happen in other places, but maybe it's faster on a shoot where everyone stays together at the hotel." When she was "very youngShe narrowly escaped an attempted rape. One night, a man on the team knocks on the door of his hotel room, pushes her on the bed and tries to undress her. "I did not understand what was happening. He wanted to fuck, it was clear, but I defended myself, She says. Marked on the moment, she has "Mourns this story" To advance, "Without forgetting for all that".

"I think that we allow ourselves more things with dressers, makeup artists and hairdressers, because we are "small", without power, and that our trades are less considered than those who touch the camera, as the electro-stagehandsSays Caroline Jegou. According to data published by the National Center for Cinema and Animated Image in 2017, 74% of the hairdressers-makeup artists in the community are women. In dressers, this rate reached 88.4%, and even 96% among the scripting staff. For Julie Darfeuil, script, the words of Adèle Haenel must be the opportunity for a broad questioning: on equal pay, the treatment of gender on screen, but also on the gender distribution of roles on the board : "I would like to see more male scriptwriters and more cheerleaders and female directors, because that can change the positioning of the workers. Too often, women's trades like mine are thought of as "rag", on the pretext that it is a profession of the shadows. All this is a question of domination relations"She slices, greeting the"huge initiativesBoosted for two years, like the 50/50 movement for 2020, which calls for questioningthe distribution of power" (read page 2).


For Olga (1), production secretary, French cinema is "at the dawn of what Michel Foucault called the rupture of evidence. Although I have never been a direct witness to machismo, I now feel entitled to put their writers back in their place if it happened. Because #MeToo has made us stronger. We feel listened and legitimate to say no"She says. On the plateaux, sexism is therefore, for two years, more than ever a subject of discussion. "What has changed especially is that now it is in the public debate", Greets Caroline Jegou. Despite a change in morals that has begun, if not already palpable, in the younger generation, the scale of the task remains high before the emerging awareness bears fruit.

All our interlocutors stress, for example, the necessary involvement of men in the fight for equality and against gender-based violence. For Julie Darfeuil, we must go further: "Since Weinstein, what remained as a conclusion is that French cinema does not speak. Until then, no one has fallen …Perhaps the status of the directors is not foreign to it. The charges of rape against Roman Polanski question Olga: "There has been much debate in the family: should we separate man from his work? Will we see I accuse or not ? I think I can not, " Does slice. However, the simple fact of having questioned is significant in the eyes of Olga: "If my baker were charged with rape, I would just go buy bread somewhere else. But cinema is a medium that involves power, the arts and, in a way, impunity because the directors are creators, and in this sense, a bit considered as above the others."

(1) The first name has been changed.

Virginie Ballet

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