| 23 February 2024, Friday |

Depardieu accusations expose divide in France over sexism

An open letter penned by dozens of actresses and other artists in defense of Gerard Depardieu, the cinema giant accused of sexual harassment, has laid bare divisions in France over the #Metoo reckoning with sexism.

Actresses Nathalie Baye and Carole Bouquet – a former partner of Depardieu – as well as singer and former first lady Carla Bruni were among the more than 50 household cultural figures who called Depardieu the victim of a public “lynching”.

Entitled ‘Don’t Cancel Gerard Depardieu’, the letter published this week in conservative daily Le Figaro alleged Depardieu had been the recipient of a “torrent of hatred”.

“We can no longer remain silent in the face of the lynching that has descended upon him,” the letter’s authors wrote.

“Gerard Depardieu is probably the greatest of all actors. When you attack Gerard Depardieu like this, it is art you are attacking.”

Depardieu, 75, who has starred in scores of French-language movies, rising to prominence in 1974 with “Going Places”, has been at the center of a growing number of sexual assault allegations in recent years.

In March, 2022, investigative magistrates placed Depardieu under formal investigation in one case on suspicion of rape and sexual assault. Actress Charlotte Arnould, 28, later revealed she was behind those accusations, saying she could not bear remaining silent any longer. Since then, more than 10 women have accused Depardieu of sexual violence.

Depardieu has consistently denied any wrongdoing and through his lawyers previously “firmly rejected” the accusations against him.

“Never, absolutely never, have I abused a woman,” he wrote in an Oct. 2 letter also published in Le Figaro. He has not been convicted of any of the accusations against him.

President Emmanuel Macron rallied to the defense of Depardieu shortly before Christmas, when asked in an interview about his culture minister’s plans to review Depardieu’s Legion d’Honneur medal – France’s highest decoration.

Macron condemned the “manhunt” against Depardieu without expressing sympathy for his alleged victims. “He’s an immense actor, a genius of his art,” Macron said. “He makes France proud.”

  • Reuters