Cannes Film Festival Boss on #MeToo, Strike, Politics

At his annual pre-festival press conference, Cannes artistic director Thierry Frémaux skillfully dogged potentially hot-button topics, including the war in Gaza, #MeToo politics, and the threat of employment strikes disrupting the 77th festival.

Frémaux politely responded to question after question from the international film press on Monday but managed not to address many of the most controversial topics on their minds.

Speaking about Moi Aussi, a short from filmmaker and #MeToo activist Judith Godrèche, which will open this year’s Un Certain Regard section, he spent more time discussing the technical aspects of the film than its subject matter: The thousands of sexual abuse victims who contacted Godrèche after she went public with her own #MeToo story and called out widespread abuse inside the French film industry.

Asked if the festival had, as was reported, hired a crisis management team to deal with possible new #MeToo allegations against filmmakers taking part in this year’s festival, Frémaux said he couldn’t comment.

The festival director also wouldn’t be drawn on the issue of Cannes’ freelance workers, who have threatened to go on strike if the festival does not meet their demands to give them better unemployment protections.

The group has long been sounding the alarm about the precarious nature of film festival work, which typically involves short-term freelance contracts. But unlike other so-called intermediate workers in the entertainment industry, many festival workers are not covered by France’s unemployment insurance program, meaning they do not qualify for unemployment benefits in between jobs or projects.

“We are talking with them and working with them and hope that the negotiations will be successful,” he said.

Frémaux did frequently complain about the nature of some of the journalists’ questions, saying he only really wanted to talk about the films in selection. “We are trying to have a festival without these polemics,” he said. “In Cannes, the politics should be on the screen.”

Frémaux also questioned how much political impact a festival could have. Speaking about Ali Abassi’s The Apprentice, about the rise of Donald Trump, he said it would likely have no impact on the American elections. “When we gave the Palme d’Or to Michael Moore for Fahrenheit 9/11 did it have an impact on the reelection of George Bush? No.”


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