Abuse of Power in the Film Industry

With the 2017 #metoo movement, sexual abuse and its enabling hierarchies and power imbalances finally made it to the headlines. Since then, more and more victims in various countries have found the bravery to call out their abusers.

Judith Godrèche

On February 23, 2024 Judith Godrèche spoke at the 49th César Award Ceremony and took a fierce stand against sexual abuse and violence in the film industry. She filed a complaint with the police against French director Benoit Jacquot, in which she accuses him of rape, as well as physical abuse against a minor. She was 14 when the relationship with Benoit Jacquot – 25 years her senior – happened.
“Let’s have the courage to say out loud what we know quietly”, she asked her audience, which honored her speech with standing ovations.

NDR Documentary

Abuse and abusive dynamics thrive in darkness and silence, so to end the cycles of abuse, it’s crucial to bring them to light. In Germany, public service broadcaster NDR published a documentary about their investigation into abuse of power in German and Austrian TV, as well as Theatre, after media reported on eclats and massive misbehavior on various sets of one of Germany’s most beloved stars Til Schweiger.

Various actors and actresses talk about their experiences with directors, producers, and other people, who hold different kinds of power in the film industry or theatre & culture scene. Beginning with dubious and absurd requests, young talents don’t think they can reject, and ending with outright physical violence – the documentary shows how big of a problem unchecked power and imbalances in hierarchal constructs become, as long as they are not openly talked about.

It’s important to understand – some of the protagonists point that out, too – that this is not a problem with “some” bad apples in an otherwise fine bunch, it’s an issue of structure, in which power goes unquestioned and abuse is continuously enabled.