Welcome to Mediapart, welcome to this Mediapart Live special programme on sexual violence in the world of cinema, a Mediapart “MeToo” special. “I’m really angry. But the issue isn’t so much me, how I survive this or not.” “I want to talk about abuse which is unfortunately commonplace, and attack the system of silence and collusion behind it which makes it possible, because silence always plays in favour of the guilty.” Those are the words of the actress Adèle Haenel, in an interview with my colleague Marine Turchi made during a remarkable investigation of great length, great detail, precision and rigorousness which we published online on Mediapart 24 hours ago. Adèle Haenel, who is 30-years-old, has two César cinema awards for “best actress” in 2014 and 2015, who you can see at the moment in cinemas in the film Portrait of a Lady on Fire, who is an acclaimed actress, who spoke out – and Marine Turchi’s investigation proved what she said was true – about acts of inappropriate touching and sexual harassment that she was subjected to between the ages of 12 and 15 perpetrated by a filmmaker, Christophe Ruggia, the director of her first film, entitled The Devils. This man, this director, was then aged between 36 and 39. Good evening Adèle Haenel. Good evening. My first question is quite simple. Why was it that spontaneously – because both of you will explain your meeting, Marine and yourself, in April this year– you decided to speak out about these events that happened 15 years ago between the years 2001 and 2004? Well, there are several reasons in fact. … … Since the events took place it was always something I kept to myself. I spoke very little about them, and I’ve tried to go along my own path with that At the beginning of this year I saw a documentary about Michael Jackson, called Leaving Neverland and which changed my perspective on what I had lived through because I understood that it’s not just a private affair, that it’s a public affair, and that perhaps I’d gone along with the version of Christophe Ruggia who described this matter as a love story, which I never really intimately believed, but it’s something he told me and I said to myself myself it’s something different, and when I saw Leaving Neverland I couldn’t prevent myself from seeing that what was completely at work were mechanisms of a hold over a person and fascination It did me good to see this story and as a result I was very troubled by the documentary. And I looked him [Christophe Ruggia] up on the internet, and I saw he was involved in a project for a film, called L’Émergence des papillons, and that the film was about two adolescents. Like in The Devils… Yes, but older and I saw that the names of the characters were Joseph and Chloé, who were the two characters Vincent Rottiers and I played in The Devils, and I felt that was really abusive that it was really cocking a snook, as if what happened didn’t. That might sound trivial but it’s not, it’s extremely humiliating, and above all it made me even more angry. I told myself he can’t re-make a film with adolescents, I can’t let him do that today. That’s how it happened, but it’s a very long process, because it starts from just trying to survive, afterwards there’s an anger that goes in every direction, including against oneself, then you begin having conversations with people who believe you, who consider that in fact this story is a problem. For oneself it is a problem, it was serious what happened to me. It’s a process, I mean it was 16, 17 years ago, so it’s a very long process. And it should be said that the world has changed, and it’s for that as well that I’m speaking out. I owe being able to speak out to all those who spoke out before, in the context of the MeToo cases, and which made me change my perspective on what I lived through. I want to contribute to that, to put it out in the public arena because I think it can really free up others to speak, and speaking out is not just a question of words, it’s the lives of people. I’m a bit garbled, I’m sorry, but naturally I’m feeling a little emotional. So it seems to me important. And what I was able to tell Marine is that in fact today it’s a responsibility for me, because I’m able to do it, because as you said, I have sufficient work, I have projects in life, a material comfort, alliances, all of which means that I’m not in the same precarity as most people who suffer these things, and it’s to address them, to tell them they’re not on their own. I’m sorry, I’m going off in all directions. Not at all. I’d like to return to the events. You mentioned this documentary about Michael Jackson, involving what is called paedophilia, I might prefer to say paedo-criminality – these events concern not a love of, but violence towards, children – and then we’ll come back to what is a political initiative of yours. In Marine Turchi’s investigation you say that you are addressing victims “I want to tell them that they are right to feel bad, to think that it’s not normal to suffer that, but that they are not alone and that one can survive,” that “To speak out is a way of saying that one survives.” But before examining that, and before handing over to Marine, there was a statement issued just before we began this programme, issued by the whole of the board of the association of French film directors, an important structure in French cinema and of which Christophe Ruggia himself was a co-president, saying that the association not only totally supports your initiative, it believes you and recognises its own responsibility, and announces that it has begun a procedure to expel Christophe Ruggia from its membership. I’d like just to quote this extract from the statement: “To understand and bring to light the mechanisms of impunity is the major lesson and the very sense of the actress’s initiative. Adèle Haenel has decided to take a political stand by offering her story to be dissected and investigated. We salute her generosity and her courage. We commit ourselves completely to this dynamic […] we must question our power and our practices, on the set and as a collective.” Reading this statement, do you say to yourself that not only I did right, but that we’ve won something, That there is an Adèle Haenel moment – not of you personally, but in this struggle that you have led here? Well, I find that statement is really very good. For me it’s not a question of talking about good and evil, it’s to open up speech, so that one takes note of one’s responsibilities, the fact that one is fallible, and in that I find the statement is very good, because they take note that, individually and collectively, they perhaps didn’t understand, perhaps avoided understanding, I don’t know. And that’s the aim of speaking out. I could have had a drive for revenge, but today it’s not that. I think it’s a good thing that, in groups and in families, we talk, and that we recognise our wrongs. That changes everything. So I find this statement very good, and I must say that I’m very touched by the messages of support that I’ve received today. Marine, we’re going to talk about the investigation? It’s an investigation that lasted seven months. At the beginning, and you will tell us about this, there was your chance meeting together, and what Adèle Haenel told you spontaneously. One account alone does not suffice ; there are about 30 people who were interviewed in this investigation, most of them on the record. You said that it was a singular investigation, and in this singular investigation we endeavoured all through to respect of the right of reply. I should point out that Christophe Ruggia, via his lawyer and after your multiple attempts for a response, told us that what we presented to him was “systematically tendentious, inaccurate, fictionalized and sometimes defamatory” and, above all, he said that that “I wish, in any case, that your readers know that I categorically deny having carried out any harassment or any form of inappropriate touching of this young girl who was then a minor”. That’s for the right of reply, but what’s important above all is that you recount how, in the end, we had an investigation that we felt allowed us to bring these events to light. At the start of this investigation there was the testimony of Adèle Haenel. We didn’t know each other. We met in April. When she understood that I was a journalist at Mediapart and that I notably work on cases of crimes of sexual violence she immediately gave her account concerning Christophe Ruggia. There were four of five of us together. We listened to her, and then in turn two other women gave their own accounts. It was as if something was unblocked. Following MeToo you come across this kind of situation today. It wasn’t the first time that I’ve been to a party and, discussing with other women, you realise that sexual violence punctuates the lives of many women. According to statistics, one woman in five has been a victim of serious sexual violence. So, at that moment several people gave their accounts, including Adèle Haenel. I said it was necessary to lead an investigation following those comments. There was a lot to do. It was necessary to give it time and not to publish her account on its own but to work on it That’s what I did during seven months. I noted the dates that Adèle Haenel gave me, the protagonists, the situations she described. I tried to find the different witnesses from the time. And so there are a lot of people who were interviewed for this article. I contacted 36 and there are 23 who are cited and they all spoke on the record, which is quite rare They all re-read their quotes, except Véronique Ruggia – I’ll come back to that later – so each word was carefully weighed. That’s very important because these weren’t quick-fire comments, these were long interviews that I carried out and recorded with their agreement. Afterwards I sent them their quotes, and sometimes they changed a verb or a word so as to be very precise. But there aren’t only people’s accounts, there are also documents. There are notably letters sent by Christophe Ruggia to Adèle Haenel in 2006 and 2007, which she found and passed on to me. Which means you put a bit of pressure on Adèle Haenel to obtain evidence. We have often said, as in the case of Luc Besson, we’re not tender with victims because we ask them a number of things and come back to them and say “we found this and you said that” etc. We ask for documents and lots of things So one mustn’t imagine that it’s an easy task for them. It’s a long process, and difficult. My work lasted seven months, questioning one person and another, and trying to counter-check all that. But what does Christophe Ruggia say in his letters? He says notably that his love for Adèle Haenel was “sometimes heavy to bear”, that he was sincere but that it was heavy to bear. So he declaimed his feelings in that letter. He says lots of other things but for me that was important. We found photos, a whole lot of things and the witness accounts are interesting because they’re numerous, but also they are from different angles. There are those from Adèle Haenel’s past and present entourage, from those involved in the film The Devils… …Almost all the ranks of cinema professionals who took part in that film are brought together, like an account from all viewpoints, including those who, when they felt or spoke out about things, were sidelined. There was already talk about it, the facts were apparent. What happened during the filming? There was a mental hold that developed – that’s what Adèle Haenel and other people recounted – and a conditioning that was spun, notably during the rehearsals. There were six months of rehearsals before the filming, because there are lots of nude scenes, so there was a lot of work with the principal actors, Adèle Haenel and Vincent Rottiers. The film is about the story of a boy and a girl, young children of 12 or 13, who are a brother and sister, and who discover sexuality together. It’s an incestuous love, and with the particularity that the role played by Adèle Haenel is that of a young autistic girl who cannot be touched and who doesn’t speak. So the screenplay is obviously a disturbing one. There were all these rehearsals with Christophe Ruggia and the two actors to work on the nude scenes, on the body and so on. As Christophe Ruggia himself said in the press at the time, if you take the rehearsals, the filming and the promotional tours, these children were cut off from their families for a year, in a little cocoon And that’s important because it was the departure point of what I wanted to detail in this investigation which is this conditioning and hold, which Adèle Haenel is not the only one to talk about because many people who took part in the filming said they were disturbed by the relation that Christophe Ruggia had with the two actors, and notably Adèle Haenel. They describe a hold, and two people who said they were concerned about it it and who spoke of this to Christophe Ruggia said they were then distanced from the rehearsals or the filming of scenes. You wrote “During a film shoot, how does one determine the subtle border between the special attention given to a child who is the main actress in the film, a relationship in which someone has a hold over someone, and possible inappropriate behaviour?” How does one grapple with the alibi? In the response he sent us through his lawyer he in fact says, “it’s me who made her”, giving a label to this relationship he pretends was one of love. What’s interesting is that people tried to put words to it during the filming. They sometimes had difficulty, at times they felt they should sound the alarm but they didn’t know how. So it reflects an issue that is still a current one today, even after MeToo: what can people do when they feel ill at ease, and how do they raise the alarm and become heard – or not? Was it painful to follow the progress of Marine’s investigation, did you learn things you didn’t know? Because you were close to these seven months of investigations. Well it was a lot of things at the same time. It was complicated. I should say that I was very relieved because I took my decision to speak out earlier, because I saw this documentary and discovered he was remaking a film, because I decided that that was enough. It was by chance, really by chance because I didn’t know Marine, that we met just after. So, I had already taken the decision. Yes, it was difficult, because there was resistance, and I’m thinking notably here about families, that’s something that’s complicated. There are systems of silence in families, which are not easy. When one talks of patriarchy it is from the outside, whereas it’s inside. The link between family love and the system of silence and what goes with it… You mean the weight of the father… Yes, potentially. People are frightened too, it’s not necessarily nastiness, it’s just fear. That must be understood. Immobility comes out of fear, and that’s what rots families also. And what I wanted to say also is that to speak out allowed me to become aware of new solidarity, to meet new people. And in my relationship with my family, my aim was not destruction but just “let’s look at ourselves, and evolve”. Because that is also love, it is love in fact. For me this investigation is very powerful, extremely vital. Today I’m nervous and it stresses me and so on, but it’s given me an incredible boost in life, and I think that’s not limited to me. It’s among those close to me, and I hope in other families too. As of the moment I was determined, and able to look in the face those who are close, and to see their degree of love – and toxicity at certain levels – and help for me, well it did me good. It changes my relationship with the world, my relationship with love, the hope I have in the world. I don’t know how to say it. It’s necessary to speak out. It does us good too. Because I don’t think it’s only a private matter. You decided to speak out, and to speak to Mediapart – no doubt because of the commitment of Marine, Lenaïg Bredoux and all the Mediapart team on reporting the issue of sexual violence – but you could have lodged a complaint with the justice system. The events are not protected from prosecution under the statute of limitations. Why not call on the justice system? Firstly I took a decision. That doesn’t mean there weren’t several options, but I took a decision and I never really envisaged the legal system. I had thought of internal procedures within cinema, like calling a meeting of people in cinema to talk about this case. But I never thought of the justice system because there is a systemic violence towards women by the legal system, and that’s also what I think should be talked about. I believe in the system of justice, but the justice system must speak for all of society. When one sees to what degree women are disparaged. It’s not me who now suddenly reveals that. Perhaps Marine can say it better than me, but in situations of sexual violence or rape, it’s one rape out of ten which ends up with a conviction. What does that say about the nine others? What does it say about all those lives, in fact? The justice system must place itself in question in that regard. I believe in the justice system, and I believe the justice system can place itself in question, but it must imperatively do so if it wants to be the image of society. That’s also why I went with Mediapart. There are so many women who are sent off to be crushed, either in the manner in which their complaint is received, or in the way in which their life will be dissected and the way they will be looked at. “The ‘fault’ is her; how was she dressed? What did she do? What did she say? What did she drink? Let’s stop! It’s for them that I’m doing this today, also, in part, because please, we must all look at ourselves and consider that the justice system is not currently representative of society, and that’s a problem.” Preparing this interview I thought of a novel, Lolita, by a renowned novelist, Vladimir Nabokov, made into a film by a major director, Stanley Kubrick. It’s the story of a young girl, who is 12 in the book and is 16 in the film, who is abused by a man, euphemistically presented as an impossible and transgressive love When one types Lolita on the internet it is indicated that Lolita is synonymous with “minx” and this is an echo of what you have been saying, it’s like “she had it coming to her”. I’d like to say, and this is not about censorship, but let’s look ourselves in the face It’s because there’s a massive number of books on this theme of what I think is a culture of rape, that women can be kidnapped, that they are objects, that they don’t have a mind, that that happens. That Ruggia can tell himself “it’s a love story”. When he comes close up to me, when I stick myself at the other end of the sofa, I’m escaping There is no ambiguity in that situation. But there is ambiguity because a whole story has been made up of what the relationship with women is. I’m talking about women, but I can talk about children because I was then half-way between the two. That’s why all that should be questioned, that doesn’t mean censorship, but it must be questioned. Because an aggressor can invent a whole story of romance about something that’s not romantic, which is oppression, which crushes the lives of so many people, of so many women. And because the world has functioned like that, with no problem, with the silence of women. It’s considered that MeToo invented theviolence against women, but no, it’s just that we have taken so much. And it’s possible to do differently in society. And that’s better for everyone, firstly for the victims but even for the torturers. That they look themselves in the face, that’s what being a human being is about. It’s not about crushing and trying to obtain power. It’s about placing oneself in question and accept the multi-dimensional side to a human being. That way we build a good society. If we want to keep in place orders that sterilise the mind, the heart, relationships with others, we are building a world that is heading for ruin. In Marine’s report, there is a very powerful comment. You say “Silence has never been without violence. Silence is an immense violence, a gagging I want to underline that because while there are the acts you have already mentioned, they’re in greater detail in the article, it should be noted that in 2005 you broke off the contact and you were left in pieces. The facts are that you don’t know how to get through things, you see no other way out other than death of one or the other of you, or the renunciation of everything You put a stop to cinema. All of what happened comes at a very dear price. It was quite muddled in my head. Obviously, about where the responsibilities lay, because when one is a victim you don’t think straight away that you’re a victim. Even that is taken away. You say, “it was my fault”, “I must be going through an adolescent crisis”, “I must be temperamental”, or I don’t know what. But no! You turn it against yourself? Of course, because you can’t even manage to call yourself a victim. The fact of being involved in this investigation has allowed me to replace things in order, to re-question myself. Even if I’m speaking here very passionately, in fact things are very calm. It’s just that I didn’t have this consciousness that I was a victim. I couldn’t even explain that as the reason for the disorder that governed my life. Yes, it was very hard. Yes, I tried to save appearances. Beginning with saving the appearance of Christophe Ruggia himself. That he doesn’t see himself abusing me. I protected him, that’s called alienation, and that’s a process which is at work. And to protect my parents as well, I didn’t want to hurt them, because I love them. But you have to process that love so it becomes more beautiful, because then it was sterilising and was driving me to ruin, to an auto-destruction. Yes, it was very long, there was a very painful part I couldn’t put an end to. I don’t know when it stopped but I know that at a certain point it wasn’t there anymore. That I no longer had this hate of myself, and this despair which haunted everything. I was lucky to have had encounters which literally saved my life. And little by little, regain confidence in human relations. During your second film, which you made with Céline Sciamma, you spoke. Yes. I’m a bit shocked at what Ruggia says in his denial. I’m shocked that he denies things, in fact. It’s shocking. What we recount must be recognised. It doesn’t mean that you no longer have the right to exist, but you must recognise our stories. It is so violent to deny us even that. I’m shocked even more that he says he discovered me, because he above all destroyed me. If Christophe Ruggia had a hold over me it’s because acting is something visceral, and still is, for me. It’s something that I’ve had inside me since I was a child, regarding emotions and so on. It’s said in the article, and I’ve said it several times, that when I gave up with cinema it was something enormous. It was a bit like giving up your life. Something that was part of me, and which was a passion, a burning heart in my life. After The Devils I did a bit of theatre at school and so on, but I was dreadful because of course I was cut in two. I couldn’t do theatre because I spent my time telling lies. So it wasn’t possible Sorry, maybe I’m talking too much… No, not at all… So we shot Water Lilies. I had met the director, Céline Sciamma. We had a long and beautiful love affair together, and when I talk about people who saved my life I begin with her. The relationship I had with Céline was the contrary to everything that had happened to me before in life She was someone who listened to me, she took act of what I said, who listened to my anger, and together, mobile, we faced life, we rose up. Céline was not the only person I met who allowed me to get over things, but meeting her was very important. There were others, some more anonymous, who have allowed me to be able today to say that I was a victim, and to have the will to speak in support of others who are alone and who don’t know that they are victims. And who inflict upon themselves a double sentence: to protect their torturers and to blame themselves for being victims. It’s really for them, these girls, these boys and these children that I’m speaking out. To tell them they’re not alone, and that in any case I’ll be here, and that I assume my position. The investigation leading from your interview is joined by another by Marine Turchi on sexual violence in the cinema industry and the rule of silence in French cinema, and it is important to note in the stand you have taken regarding your ‘social status’. You say in the interview that “In my current situation – my material comfort, the certainty of being in work, my social status – I cannot accept silence, and if it is necessary that that sticks to me all my life, if my cinema career must end after that, so be it. My militant commitment is to assume my situation, to say ‘Voilà, I lived through that’, and it’s not because one is a victim that one should carry shame, that one should accept the impunity of the torturers. So there is, in what you have created as a political moment, a political event in this long combat, the fact that you are better known than he who was your aggressor. It’s your force. And it’s the very condition for speaking out. It’s not about a lynching. When women who lodge a complaint, or denounce acts, are lesser known, there are those who say “Ah, she was looking for work”, or “She had it coming to her”, “She’s lying to get attention”. Their account is denigrated. What violence! I have nothing to gain here tonight, other than to say I believe in humanity, in a possible wake-up call, it’s as simple as that. That’s why I’m speaking out. It’s not with any professional interest It’s to say victims’ voices, when they are still victims, are disparaged, that’s why I’m speaking out. Somewhere, I’m sorry for Christophe Ruggia, that it falls on him. But I tell myself that I can shelter my sisters, who are so much more in precarity. That’s why I’m speaking out, and why it was necessary that I am better known than my aggressor. Thank you. I’d like to add something. It’s often said that victims should speak up, that they should lodge a complaint, and witnesses are not often spoken about. We could not carry out these journalistic investigations if there weren’t witnesses who can also speak out It is important to say tonight that the men and women who might have seen things must raise the alarm. Notably for example how all that began during the shooting of the film. But also afterwards, when you went to his apartment. After the filming ended… …for regular meetings, on Saturdays for example. And here there is an important account which we haven’t yet mentioned, which is that of the film director Mona Achache who was once Christophe Ruggia’s partner, who had the courage to be interviewed for this article and detailed the confession she said Christophe Ruggia gave her. I’d like to read this extract, which shows the importance of the promotional tour for The Devils, “He told me that he had had romantic feelings for Adèle” Questioning him further, she recalled him as saying: “He was watching a film with Adèle. She was lying down, her head on his knees. He had passed his hand up from Adèle’s tummy to her chest, under her T-shirt. He told me he saw a look of fear in her, staring wide-eyed, and that he too became frightened and withdrew his hand.” What Mona Achache said was that afterwards she realised that he had not understood the importance of his gestures in that, even if he withdrew his hand, it can obviously have been traumatic for a child. She says that, as a result, shortly after that she left him. That’s right. She says she was “staggered” by his account, of his lack of consciousness about it and the analysis that he gave and that she left him quite soon after, suddenly and without telling him why. She said she spoke to a close friend about it, and who confirmed that to me, but that she hadn’t wanted to raise the alarm further because she didn’t want to speak in Adèle Haenel’s place, and that not having her account she didn’t know what she could do. It’s important, because without these statements we can’t carry out this kind of investigation, because we have to check and counter check. I should say that in this investigation everybody spoke in the open, no-one is anonymous. And also that, unlike in other investigations, no-one said “no, I don’t believe Adèle Haenel”, “no, that’s false” and so on. No-one doubted what she said, and that’s important. It indicates that a lot of people were alerted to what was going on. Within the editorial team we’ve been following how this investigation was becoming more concrete over the past two months. Did you ask yourself at some point that, on top of the strength of this investigation, which has provoked a watershed moment, as shown by the SRF statement and no doubt what’s to come, that we could have had the hope that Christophe Ruggia might also take the same path, that we would have that too? I had wanted and hoped that he would accept to meet me. I proposed an interview on several occasions, which he didn’t respond to. So then I sent him detailed questions, with notably one question which was an opportunity he he could have taken, where he could have explained his point of view, and the gestures which he perhaps hadn’t taken the measure of. That was among the questions I wanted to ask him… Because men must also change. Well I had the hope that he might take this opportunity, accept a meeting and explain things. He didn’t do so, nor did he respond to the two pages of detailed questions I sent him. We had a hope with his sister, with whom he’s very close, who is an assistant director and who has feminist commitments. Like it should be underlined that Christophe Ruggia is filmmaker who has political commitments, on the issue of migrants, on equality, on discrimination… So there’s a question of breaking out of this sort of schizophrenia whereby one has commitments and, in one’s innermost privacy you don’t shy away from living up to your commitments. His sister, in any case, didn’t shy away because she responded to my questions. Her response is in the article. She speaks also of her awkward position, as a sister, as a feminist, as first assistant director on the film The Devils, having worked with Adèle Haenel and Vincent Rottiers and perhaps, she says, not having seen certain things that may have happened. She says all that was complicated. But she confirmed to me that Adèle Haenel and Céline Sciamma told her, ten years ago, what happened. And she gave an important piece of information: she said she spoke about it with her brother. So Christophe Ruggia isn’t only now discovering these accusations. He’s known about them for ten years. And one of the enigmas is that a month ago, with the release of the film Portrait of a Lady on Fire, he posted on social media a photo of Adèle Haenel. A photo from the film with a heart symbol above. And a question I wanted to ask him was why publish that? Whereas, according to his sister, for ten years he has known about the accusations against him. He didn’t want to explain all that, although there are many things to talk about. He could have had his say in the article. I wanted to say, on top of what Marine’s just said, that this person puts in place a system. One of isolation. Of me, a young girl at the time, between the ages of 12 and 15. Placing me in isolation to have me at his home, at his disposition, every weekend. It’s not someone who has an impulse, it’s harassment. Recurrent harassment on the sofa… Which is permanent. Weekly to be more precise. That’s what he does. If someone is subject to an impulse, who says “what can I do about this case of love?”, he doesn’t put in place a system to have me under his nose, alone, all the time. To make me feel guilty It is not about an unfortunate caress. It’s about an adult man, almost 40-years-old, who finds himself in a room every Saturday alone with a girl of between 12 and 15. And who tries to grope her. And who in fact doesn’t just try. That’s what we’re talking about. It’s not a question of it happening just once, as he appears to say. And he is excited, you use that word, he’s “excited”. He wants to have sexual relations in fact. That’s my interpretation, and I think it’s a valid one given I suffered these assaults over quite some time, not to say several years… We ran a headline saying how you had broken a new taboo. There is this taboo of the rule of silence in cinema, which you are helping everyone to put an end to, and there is what is at the heart of your story, the taboo of ‘paedophilia’, which we prefer to call paedo-criminality. It involves a hold over childhood, and it has an echo because what has troubled and divided the cinema industry at the beginning of the MeToo movement in France is the case of filmmaker Roman Polanski, who has a film coming out now. He has admitted acts, although not rape, on an actress a young girl who was then aged 13, in the US in 1977. What can I say? Those who defend him say it was not rape, but I invite them to read the description of the sexual acts that were committed. We’re talking about a child of 13 and an adult adult who forces her to have sexual relations, so if that’s not called rape there’s something I can’t understand. In any case the acts involved were extremely serious. The idea is not to say there are ‘monsters’, we’re not isolating people from society. It’s about how it is possible for these things to happen. For that to happen, we all have a collective responsibility. That’s what we’re talking about. Monsters don’t exist. It’s our society, it’s us, it’s our friends, it’s our fathers. That’s what we should be looking at, and that doesn’t mean we’re here to eliminate them, we’re here to change them. But that means we must look at ourselves. There are emblematic cases, and the situation of Polanski is unfortunately emblematic, because he represents culture and he’s talked about all the time. If society was not so violent towards women, if violence against women was not something so disregarded, the case of Polanski would not have this role It has an emblematic role in a society where one women out of five – and I’m being kind because I think it must be much more – is confronted by violence that 98 percent of the time is committed by men. So we can question how virility is constructed today, that strikes me as fundamental, and that’s why the debate about Polanski is not limited to Polanski and his monstrosity but implicates the whole of society. It’s in that context that you called for the Roche-sur-Yon [film] festival to organise a debate alongside its preview of the forthcoming film, An Officer and a Spy, and regarding the alibi of artistic creation you used this strong phrase, “the difference between a man and an artist”, as a point of reflection. Absolutely. Excuse me, but I would like to read a letter. It’s not about the story we’re talking about but I’d just like to do it before finishing. We’ve got some time left still. OK, if we’ve still got time. I’ll answer that question. We need to address this issue, because it’s an alibi. For me, and I believe my stand is extremely pacifist, it’s not a question of censorship, it’s not a question of demonizing. It is about opening up speech, and to listen to the stories, and also who it is we listen to. That’s what will define our society. People who are cynical, who are cold, cruel, do we want to listen to those people What society do we want? It’s about that, too. When what people say is sincere it’s a good thing that it circulates, when there’s not an attempt to impose silence, but instead to raise questions. And to raise the responsibility of each individual’s personal responsibility. Each person is capable of positioning themselves. But we need the tools, it’s complicated, we need people who will help us set out the issues: what are we talking about when speaking of a culture of rape? And a succession of questions. People won’t all see things the same way we are not all in agreement, but that doesn’t matter when we all speak about the same issue. All these blocs and so on are a great factor of oppression, like silence. Silence is the best way to maintain in place an order which is one of oppression. People who don’t have access to voicing what they have to say are oppressed. That’s why it’s crucial to talk. Before you read your letter … Regarding your courage, your stand – because it involved lifting up a great weight, as we’ve heard and felt with sensitivity, and bravo and thanks to Marine for having allowed that that – you talk of how you’ve experienced that. I tell myself that in fact we’re seeing a women’s revolution that will liberate all of us. Not only with regard to your commitment, and others – because you’re not the only one. I add a reminder here that there is a march on November 23rd at 2pm in Paris to protest at sexist and sexual violence against women, a march which highlights that there are about 130 women who have been killed [in France] by their partners or former partners since the beginning of the year, called feminicides. When I say there is a women’s revolution, it includes in the art of creation, through the imagination of cinema. When I see the film Portrait of a Lady on Fire, I see Papicha about the resistance of women during the dark decade in Algeria, when one sees the film Atlantics, which is made by a female director in Senegal and when one sees even a documentary film like For Sama about the [Syrian] civil war, one says to oneself that something is happening. It’s not only that we men are justly jostled and placed in question over the unconscious of a millennial domination, but there is also something that’s happening here in creation, in the way of talking, including politically, of things. Absolutely. For us, it’s necessary. Our narratives don’t exist. And I want to say also that shame isolates [crashing noise] Everything’s crashing down! It’s the strength of your words that made the Bettencourt file fall down! It’s an irony. I wanted to say that shame causes isolation, really, and that the stories of oppression against women, sexual violence against children, and I’m talking all the time about women because we are often victims, isolate us. Speaking out places us in common, makes us into a people, and it’s important to constitute this people. Which as a result becomes a militant, active people, which contributes in that way to society. A plural, multicultural, intersectional people. And which, what’s more, has the wellbeing of getting away from alienation, something which is equivalent to going from five packs of cigarettes a day to none. It’s like that, like to suddenly say “Wow, my god, that’s what it is to live!” That’s something that is good for us, for our private experience, but it’s also good for society, because it creates a society with commitments. Marine, before the letter I have a question for you. What has this investigation had for effect on you? Because you master your work in a very professional manner, but we all followed you and saw how you were driven by this investigation. What struck me clearly was the emotion of people during the interviews. And I’m not talking of two or three, it was quite general. Lots of people cried during the interviews, many were very moved, and many spoke of their guilt at having seen things but done nothing, to have thought they saw, but who hesitated. To have tried raising the alarm but who believed they didn’t do so sufficiently. This investigation is filled with people’s guilt. I’m not just talking about Adèle Haenel’s family, I mean globally, many people, from cinema, those on the shoot. It’s something that punctuated the investigation because over the months people called me again, they needed to express that feeling, to clarify their statements, and I think it made many ask themselves questions I’d like this investigation to now raise questions for people in families, in corporations, a bit everywhere, that it makes them reflect on the issues, and notably about the role of witnesses which, like I said earlier, is essential. You can’t ask everything of a victim Victims speak out, but it’s not the liberation of speech it’s a liberation of listening, because women have spoken out, it’s just that they’re unheard most of the time. And this investigation shows that. Adèle Haenel spoke out. She also wrote many letters, which she gave me and were important in the investigation and which show the consistency of the story. There was a letter in 2014 where she speaks of all that, what’s in the article, what we’re talking about this evening and it’s very powerful The pages are there, there is consistency. So victims speak out, it’s the witnesses and society who don’t hear, and that’s what particularly marked me. Like when you have people who call you back and who slept on it, or rather couldn’t sleep, and who ask what could they have done differently. And I think that today all that could happen again, alarm bells that aren’t heard, aren’t sounded. It’s for that reason I wrote a second article about protecting men and women from sexual violence on film shoots today. We’re talking about cinema, but at Mediapart we work on many other sectors, academia, politics, trades unions, the world of journalism and so on. So it’s not only cinema. But cinema is excused a lot because of the supposed special relationship between the filmmaker and the actors, and the artistic notion, that it’s in the interest of the oeuvre… …transgression, creation. That’s something which I think is in the process of changing, of being questioned today in the world of cinema. It’s all that which is mixed together in this investigation. But here we have a very powerful account from Adèle Haenel. She has the power to say things for many people who don’t have the means of expressing themselves like that, in terms of an argument that is constructed, and political. And here there is an opportunity, a platform, to say it. The interest of this investigation, we would argue, is the rarity of this account. It’s also the acts that are denounced, namely sexual violence against a minor, a new taboo as you said. We have here an actress who, even if she is well-known, is taking the risk of speaking out, of perhaps falling out with people, perhaps not being offered certain roles. Despite a status of celebrity, and despite being two years on from MeToo, there’s still all that. That’s what seemed to us interesting. One is often told that there must be several accounts from women victims before going to publication, but here we believed that the strength of this account, and all that we were able to counter-check, the documents and the number of statements that could corroborate a number of events, allowed us to put it out. But beyond that there is an enormous public interest in Adèle Haenel’s story. Adèle Haenel, you wanted to read a letter. Yes. I received enormous support, during this investigation, from people I didn’t know. I wanted to speak about the relationship of love in families, and the relationship between love and silence. I had a moment that was a bit complicated because my father didn’t immediately understand why I spoke out. He believed, like lots of people I think, that it was best not to talk, that, ‘be careful’, talking would cause hurt. Whereas that’s something that I know, today, is false. He sent me an email, during his incomprehension at that time, saying that it was best not to talk, and I wrote back to him to explain why I had chosen that course. There are perhaps some superfluous things, I’ve erased those that are too personal, where the black marks are. So I wrote this to my father in April. I’ll read it to you, it won’t be very long: “My dear father, I will try to explain things clearly. This matter goes back 18 years. If I waited this long to expose the events it is because of a number of things which made talking impossible for a long time, and today a whole lot of other things which make remaining silent insufferable. What made it impossible to speak out was, among other things, the fact that Christophe was someone nice, that he had done so much for me, and that without him I would be nothing. What I consider today to be clearly paedophilia and harassment, I forced myself at the time to think it was love. How can I tell you? Deep inside me I always knew that something wasn’t right, that it was not love, and when I went to his home I felt so dirty that I wanted to die. I found him disgusting, but I felt indebted to him because he did so much for me. He said to me incessantly, ‘It’s not the same with us, others wouldn’t be able to understand’. He always went about things in the same way, came close up to me, kissed me and began caressing me. I would get up, he would follow me, and I ended up sitting on the footrest which was so small he couldn’t come close to me. He didn’t want to look at things in the eyes. That’s to say he couldn’t give me two slaps and physically force me because in that case he would not have been able to avoid seeing himself for what he is. That’s to say, a 40-year-old man who abused a child of 12-, 13-, and 14-years-old. Do you understand? It’s not out of respect for the child that I was that he didn’t carry through the act, it was from fear of looking at himself in the face. I felt so dirty at the time, I had so much shame, that I didn’t want to talk about it to anyone. Silence is never without violence. Silence is an immense violence. You probably remember that time, of the violence that I went through alone, and you probably remember too that at that time I cut off contact with everyone. I left my agent, I stopped the casting sessions, I myself abandoned the idea of doing cinema. I decided to survive and go off on my own rather than staying. Who then came to see me to help me, for my wellbeing, for my career? All the kind consideration of Christophe didn’t prevent him from turning away from me and to pursue his political commitment in favour of children, his life in the world of cinema, as if nothing had happened. I disappeared, and with me disappeared the risk of being caught up one day for this dirty affair. What a pity for him that one day, at the end of a party, I bumped again into Christel Baras who subsequently casted me for Water Lilies and I came back, fragile but I came back. As of that moment, and for a large part thanks to meeting Céline, the most important encounter of my life and my career, sharpened by a desire for revenge, I became a blade, stronger, to the point of becoming what I am today. I’m talking of social status. I am socially powerful now, and Christophe has only become weaker. But this inversion of the balance of power is in itself insufficient to fight against the balance of power that is stamped from early adolescence. Despite that, I still continued to be afraid. Concretely, that means having the heart which beats fast, hands that sweat, thoughts which become clouded. Fear, notably, during the rare times since that I have found myself in Christophe’s presence. To tell you something else, during what you thought was 18 years of silence, I crossed it feeling like being gagged, with lots of false truths that suited everyone. For example, very often I found myself in face of people, even people I loved very much, who, without me speaking about anything concerning this matter, would say to me, “No, Christophe is a good person”. What I want to say is that, from what I’m telling to you in part in this email, you can imagine that “a good person” is not exactly a proper description of Christophe. I want to tell you another thing. The remaining reasons that I’ve taken the decision to speak out are a documentary about Michael Jackson called Leaving Neverland, which I recommend you to take a look at, and also that I learnt by chance he [Christophe Ruggia] has launched a casting for a new film, whose main characters are called Chloé and Joseph, like in The Devils. Perhaps you view that as just a small matter, but for me it’s enormous: it means he completely denies my story. If I’m talking about it to Mediapart, after having envisaged other possibilities, it’s because the journalist is going to lead a thorough investigation. You seem to think that I’m trying to seek attention with these revelations, or that I’m trying to drag my psychoanalysis into the public arena. You are missing the point. If I’m speaking out it’s not to burn Christophe. It’s to put the world back on the right track, a world which is upside down in lies. If I’m speaking out it’s so the torturers stop strutting around and that they look at things in the face. If I’m speaking it’s so that shame changes sides. If I’m speaking it’s so that this exploitation of future children, of women, ceases, so that there is no longer the possibility of double-talk. You speak to me of forgiving, but allow me to ask you, has someone asked for forgiveness? Forgiveness for what? I understand your decision not to talk, it’s entirely your right. As for me, I think that if we do things together we can do something really nice, which would consist of looking clearly at our past, which came close to destroying me, destroying us, and to make of it a gesture of love. Forgiving Christophe is not my principal concern. In any case, there is only he who could offer himself forgiveness. My principal concern is to live my life in the most alive manner as can be, with, around me, my family and the people I love, and who are themselves the most alive as can be.” And when I say that talking is beneficial, as you know my father talks in the article, and he has completely changed his point of view, which had seemed completely inconceivable. Thank you. Well, thanks to you. … Not only for all that you have said this evening but for the combat. The combat liberates others. And what you have done, which is not lacking in courage and strength, is also a combat to emancipate others, and notably men. I hope so. Yes, one must hope so. There are always combats to lead, they are endless. Thank you Adèle Haenel, thank you for giving your account. We’re going to listen to you, at Roche-sur-Yon, before talking to the academic researcher Iris Brey about – beyond your own story, what it relates to at heart – namely sexual violence in the world of cinema. Thank you, good luck with the combat, and continue with the struggle. That’s for sure.