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‘MeToo’ Dirty Laundry to Air at Cannes Film Festival?

With strikes, political intrigue, and a #MeToo reveal, this year’s festival may be one for the books.

Today (May 14) is the 77th Cannes Film Festival opening, a prestigious and entertaining 12-day event to celebrate international cinema. However, this year there may be a lot more to expect than big-screen films and their makers. Politics has made its way into the theater and a rumored big reveal has the already nervous cinema elites on the edge of their seats.

#MeToo Reveal During the Cannes Film Festival

An article in the French publication Le Figaro predicted, “French cinema is in a cold sweat,” referring to  an announcement from Mediapart, the country’s acclaimed investigative news site, that it will reveal during the festival the names of ten actors and directors accused of #MeToo violations. “To say that the cinema world is quivering with anxiety as the Cannes Film Festival approaches is an understatement,” the article read, according to the New York Post. “Entire artistic teams are trembling, fearing that their work will be trashed under the effect of a new accusation made public during the fortnight.”

A tweet making the rounds on social media lists the names of those supposedly being investigated for #MeToo violations; however, it is not confirmed, and as one commenter posted, it is unlikely Mediapart would release this information before the festival.

French director, actor, and #MeToo activist Judith Godrèche has a 17-minute short, titled Moi Aussie (which translates to “me too” in French), about survivors of sexual abuse that will open the Un Certain Regard category of the event.  Godrèche, who starred with Leonardo DiCaprio in the 1998 film The Man in the Iron Mask, put her film together using stories from her social media followers. She placed an email address on her site and urged alleged victims to tell their stories.

Cannes General Delegate Thierry Frémaux said that Godrèche’s film in the Un Certain Regard is a sidebar section, designed for “communication and dialogue” with the audience, reported Euronews. “He added that Godrèche’s film was shot in one day, with thousands of sexual abuse victims who contacted her after she called out widespread abuse inside the French film industry.”

Time for a Strike?

As if the #MeToo expose isn’t enough to cause anxiety, Cannes Festival workers might be striking during the event. A new French law set to take effect on July 1 will reportedly make it harder for freelance workers to qualify for benefits. The group, Sous les écrans la dèche (Broke under the screens), is protesting for freelancer eligibility and for those changes to be backdated 18 months so that workers could claim for last year’s Cannes festival. More than 400 international filmmakers and executives have signed a petition in support of the collective.

GettyImages-1663854367 Thierry Frémaux

Thierry Frémaux (Photo by Francois G. Durand/Getty Images)

On Sunday, May 12, the workers met with management for a pre-festival welcome and cocktail, a yearly fete. This time, however, members of the Sous les écrans took the opportunity to promote their issues, passing out badges and stickers that highlighted their demands, along with a message for “all employees of the Cannes Film Festival and its sidebars” to protest the “precarious” position of the freelancers.

During his annual opening press conference, Frémaux insisted that the occasion would “have a festival free of polemics.” Reportedly, the Cannes Festival has hired a crisis management team to deal with the possible reveal of #MeToo violations, and when asked if that was true, the general delegate said he couldn’t comment.

Frémaux kept telling reporters he wanted to talk only about the films in the selection. “Before, we used to talk about cinema. Before, the only anxiety was about the films – whether they were going to be liked or not,” he said. “What has changed the most in the last 20 years are your questions,” he continued. “There is no polemic this year. There are polemics outside the festival, but they do not come from the festival.” Among the celebrities attending are Greta Gerwig (Barbie director), as this year’s jury president, and Meryl Streep as guest of honor.

Films of the Festival

Perhaps not everyone will be in attendance at the Cannes Festival. While Iranian director Mohammad Rasoulof and his film, The Seed of the Sacred Fig, is scheduled to debut, he has been sentenced to eight years in prison by the Islamic Revolutionary Court. He managed to flee Iran and traveled to Europe, but whether he will be free to attend is still in question. Iran’s authorities told him to remove the film from the competition and also pressured the producers and actors. The Seed of the Sacred Fig is about a judge who struggles with paranoia amid political unrest in Tehran, and when his gun disappears, he suspects his wife and daughters, “imposing draconian measures that strain family ties as societal rules crumble,” according to IMDb.

Featured Films

Megalopolis: A film by Francis Ford Coppola about an architect who wants to rebuild New York City as a utopia.

The Invasion:  A film by Ukrainian filmmaker Sergi Loznitsa is focused on “the population’s resilience in the face of Putin’s aggressive campaign against them,” as Rolling Stone reported.

The Kingdom: This new film by Julien Colonna is gaining a lot of attention. It is a coming-of-age story about a teenage girl on the run with her father, a Corsican clan leader. “We wanted to propose a kind of anti-mob film,” Colonna said, referring to The Godfather and other gangster-inspired dramas, according to AP. “As a viewer, I’m quite bored of this. I think we need to move to something else and propose a different prism.”

The Apprentice: Written by Gabriel Sherman and directed by Ali Abbasi, this is the story of how Donald Trump started his real estate business. Sebastian Stan plays the part of the former president, and Maria Bakalova (Borat) stars as Ivana Trump.

With the potential reveal of #MeToo offenders during Cannes and the possible
strike, there’s some concern that The Apprentice might have a political impact while
in the 2024 presidential election year. Frémaux disagreed, saying, “When we gave the Palme d’Or to Michael Moore for Fahrenheit 9/11, did it have an impact on the re-election of George W. Bush? No.”

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