French actor Adele Haenel quits cinema over sexual abuse 'complacency'

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

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".


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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