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Stars wear #MeToo white ribbons at ‘French Oscars’

Stars wore white ribbons in protest at violence against women at the "French Oscars" -- the Cesars -- on Friday night where "120 Beats per Minute, a powerful drama about AIDS activists in the 1990s, won best film.

Stars wear #MeToo white ribbons at 'French Oscars'
Hubert Charuel (L) with his the Best First Feature Film award, Sara Giraudeau (C) with her Best Actress in a Supporting Role award and Swann Arlaud with his the Best Actor award at the Cesar Awards ce
The Cesars sparked feminist fury last year by inviting controversial Franco-Polish director Roman Polanski to preside over the awards before he was forced to pull out.
 
This year the global anger fuelled by the #MeToo movement took centre stage on the red carpet in Paris with stars like Marion Cotillard and Penelope Cruz sporting white ribbons to condemn abuse and exploitation.
 
“Wearing a white ribbon, it will be a way for us, the French, to express our solidarity,” said French actress and producer Julie Gayet.
 
“I propose we act tonight, to get up, to show our white ribbons,” added the ceremony's host, French comedian and actor Manu Payet. “I think it's great that mindsets are changing, that women's voices are being liberated, and that men are hearing some types of behaviours must be banished.”
 
Movie industries around the world have been rocked by tales of sexual abuse and harassment since the downfall last year of Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein over alleged sexual misconduct. Dozens of actresses and women working behind the scenes have come forward to speak out against abuse, often by powerful industry men.
 
Award ceremonies have since morphed into public protests with actors and directors at the Golden Globes and the British Bafta choosing to wear black to support the #MeToo campaign. The Berlin film festival, which wrapped up at the weekend, also came under pressure to replace its red carpet with a black one in support of victims of sexual harassment.
 
The Cesar's white ribbon protest was in stark contrast to last year's award ceremony which was overshadowed by the invite for Polanski. The veteran filmmaker — who has been accused of sexual assault by several women — is wanted in the United States for the statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl in 1977.
 
Alain Terzian, the head of the French Academy, said Franco-American actress and director Tonie Marshall came up with the white ribbon idea to support a French foundation that works to stop violence against women. Marshall remains the only female director to have won the best director gong at the Cesars for “Venus Beaute” back in 2000.
 
Only one of the seven nominations this year for best director was for a woman — Julia Ducournau for “Grave”. In the end that gong went to Albert Dupontel for “Au Revior la-haute”, an adaptation of a Pierre Lemaitre novel about the friendship between two World War I soldiers.
 
 Award winners
 
Robin Campillo's “120 Beats per Minute” (120 battements par minute), which tells the story of French AIDS activists in the 1990s, took home best film. Jeanne Balibar took home best actress for her performance in “Barbara” while Swann Arlaud was awarded best actor for his role in “Petit Paysan”.
 
Politicians joined stars in calling for equal opportunities and pay for women in films. French Culture Minister Francoise Nyssen said film producers had a huge “responsibility to fight stereotypes, discrimination and harassment” both on camera and behind it.
 
“No matter who we are dealing with, we cannot have any tolerance or complacency about unacceptable behaviour,” she added.
 
Nyssen was also highly critical of how few films directed by women get made.
 
“Certainly we have made some progress in recent years, but it is still not acceptable that there are fewer women film-makers, that they are less visible and less supported” than their male counterparts, she said.
 
“In 42 years the Cesar for best director has only been won once by a woman,” she added.
 
She said only one in five feature films subsidised by the French state every year are made by women.
 
The situation is Hollywood is even worse, with only seven percent of the top 250 films in 2016 directed by women.
 
By AFP's Jean-François Guyot and Fiachra Gibbons

WOMEN

Thousands march in Paris against sexist violence

Tens of thousands of people rallied across Europe on Saturday against sexist violence, with more than 30,000 turning out in Paris, where a separate protest against rising fuel prices brought clashes.

Thousands march in Paris against sexist violence
Some 12,000 protestors turned out in Paris, and 50,000 in France as a whole. Photo: AFP
Anti-violence rallies across France drew around 50,000 people in all, according to organiser Caroline de Haas, to answer a citizen collective's call for a “feminist tidal wave” of outrage against gender violence brought into sharp focus by the #MeToo movement.
   
Around 1,000 braved driving rain in Rome while similar protests drew several hundred in Geneva and Athens.
   
Authorities put the Paris turnout at 12,000 and similar marches in Lyon, Marseille and Rennes at between 1,000 and 2,400, but De Haas felt moved to salute “the largest (feminist) mobilisation France has known,” far bigger than a rally that drew some 2,000 last year. 
   
Participants clad in purple, the colour of the #NousToutes women's activist protest movement, shouted slogans including “sick of rape,” “end impunity for aggressors” and “a woman is never responsible for the violence she suffers,” while also demanding sufficient government resources to tackle the issue.
   
“I am here to support all the victims and continue this struggle which started long before I came along,” said French actress Muriel Robin, who had organised a similar rally last month in the capital.
   
The rallies drew a number of men, including Tanguy, a 19-year-old student who turned out in the western city of Rennes to declare backing for “a movement which is not based on sex — it's not a fight pitting men against 
women but a fight by men and women, together, against inequality.”
   
The #NousToutes movement started out in France in September, inspired by the #MeToo campaign that began last year since when the number of cases of sexual violence reported to police in France has risen  23 percent.
   
Latest French government figures say 2017 saw 225,000 cases of domestic violence against women by their partners while 2016 saw 123 deaths.
   
A day ahead of Sunday's UN-designated International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women there were further marches in a number of cities across Europe 
   
French President Emmanuel Macron last year made sexual equality a priority of his presidency
   
But “if the money is not forthcoming public policy won't follow on,” warned De Haas, speaking two days after several civil organisations called for a huge increase in public resources dedicated to the problem.
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