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Valeria Bruni Tedeschi charges against the French Film Academy and accuses it of being a censor and of adhering to “political correctness”


The director reacts to the veto from attending the gala imposed by the Cesar Awards on the actor of her film ‘Forever Young (Les Amandiers)’, Sofiane Bennacer, who is facing three accusations of rape and one more of assault

Bruni (center), together with Bennacer (right) and actors from his film.Petros Giannakouris

“This is all a nightmare. I wish I could wake up. It can’t be true. They ask me and I ask myself why, but I don’t know what to say. I’d cut my head off.” With these words –partly in French, partly in English, and the rest in very explicit silence with wide-open eyes and outstretched arms– the filmmaker referred on Saturday Valeria Bruni Tedeschi at the moment that she lives and that all French cinema lives due to the veto imposed by the Academy on one of the actors in her latest film. The declarations took place during the meetings in Paris in Unifrance, the platform with which French cinema is promoted abroad and which annually convenes distributors and foreign press in the capital. Until now, the director had preferred not to say anything or enter into controversy.

It all started after publishing the newspaper Delivery at the end of November of last year that about the actor Sofiane Bennacer weighed up three charges of rape and one more for assault. The interpreter embodies a character inspired by fellow actor Thierry Ravel in the latest film by Bruni Tedeschi Forever Young (Les amadiers).To situate yourself, just remember that this tape premiered in France a week before the cover of Lib In her own way, the culmination of a series of works very close to autobiography in which the director offers, in a way that is as personal as it is snatched, shreds of a nomadic, abnormal, aristocratic and, above all, intense life down to the most evident viscerality. First it was Actresses (2007), then A castle in Italy (2013), later the summer house (2018), and now this. In the tape he evokes the 80s of his training by the legendary theater director Patrice Chreau, played by Louis Garrel.

A month after the facts became known, the French Film Academy released a statement making the veto public. Not only did it implicitly delete Bennacer from the possible candidates that will be announced on January 23, but it also directly prohibited him from attending the gala to be held on February 24 and, one step further, he was ordered to to be quiet “Out of respect for the victims, it has been decided not to offer a showcase to those people who have had problems with the law for violent acts,” read the statement from the organization of the Awards. Immediately afterwards, it was clarified that people related to violent acts, “particularly of a sexual nature”, may not even make statements either in person or through others, even if they receive awards. That is to say, the veto was not so much the prize as the exhibition on the red carpet and on stage. That is to say again, the idea, always according to the reasoning of the Academy, is not so much to make a parallel trial as to put respect for the suffering of the possible victims first. But that’s not how the director of the film understands it.

“I don’t want to talk. It can’t be that I’m the only person in the world who believes that the presumption of innocence is important. Perhaps this concept should be removed from the law because it has become clear that it no longer exists”Bruni Tedeschi commented on Saturday, visibly upset in the framework of an interview with various international media. For the director and actress, the Césars have allowed themselves to be carried away by “the sign of the times and by the imposition of political correctness”. And he added that what happened is very serious and dangerous because “It interferes and blocks the creation process. And it punishes the freedom to imagine.”

Let’s say that this is the last chapter of a controversy that promises to offer a long series. Bruni Tedeschi spoke some time ago of “unjust lynching.” And right after the publication of Libration, the sister of the filmmaker and wife of the former President of the Republic Nicolas Sarkozy, Carla Bruni, came out in his defense. “This newspaper has been giving us moral lessons for 40 years, but the presumption of innocence is totally alien to it,” she said. act followed called the publication a mockery of “the fundamentals of democracy”. Bennacer, for his part, used Instagram to deny everything and charge against one of his former partners, whom he accused of plotting revenge: “He harassed me for two years after the end of the relationship so that we would return. I have messages from other ex-comrades who show that I harassed them to denounce me,” he wrote.

It was to all this that the Academy reacted with what happened in 2019 as a reference and a show to avoid. It was just before the pandemic when the César gala – which since 1976 has marked the excellence of French cinema – was involved in its biggest and most embarrassing scandal. That year, The officer and the spy He took up to three statuettes, including the one that designates the best director. The film that recreates and updates the famous dreyfus case it was signed by, indeed, Roman Polanski, and the filmmaker, without any shame, did not hesitate to put his own case in parallel to that of the falsely accused officer of Jewish origin who marked a milestone in the history of anti-Semitism.

Remember that against PolanskiAmong other accusations, a complaint has been filed in the United States since the 1970s for raping a minor. Given the outcry unleashed, the Polish filmmaker declined to attend the gala, which did not prevent him from becoming an absolute protagonist. At one point during the ceremony, actress Adle Haenel, a candidate for Portrait of a woman on firegot up and shouted to the astonishment of the audience: “Long live pedophilia!”.

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