French actor Godrèche calls for investigation into sex crimes and sexism in French cinema

French actress Judith Godreche speaks during the 49th Cesar Award ceremony in Paris, Friday, Feb. 23, 2024
French actress Judith Godreche speaks during the 49th Cesar Award ceremony in Paris, Friday, Feb. 23, 2024 Copyright Michel Euler/AP
Copyright Michel Euler/AP
By Katy Dartford with AP
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Judith Godrèche is leading a push for a reckoning about sexual abuse in France's world-renowned cinema industry


French actor Judith Godrèche has urged politicians to establish a commission to investigate sex crimes and sexism in French cinema.

Godrèche gave an emotional testimony to a French Senate commission on Thursday recalling her own experiences as a teenager breaking into the industry.

“Everyone knows that in the film industry, an abuser disguised as a director makes little girls suffer so they cry … He then arranges to meet them in an attic room and takes possession of them for real,” Godrèche said in her opening remarks.

Visibly shaken, she said she didn’t know she had the right to say “no.”

Godrèche urged for an independent inquiry into misconduct in the French industry, the appointment of independent guardians for underage actors on film sets and other proposals to address past abuses and prevent new ones.

Her call comes just days after her dramatic speech at the César Awards ceremony, France’s version of the Oscars and ahead of the Oscars next month, when French film-making will be under the spotlight.

During the live broadcast, she called on France’s film industry to “face the truth” about the issue, years after the MeToo movement shook up Hollywood but faced resistance in France.

"This incestuous family in the film industry is just a reflection of all the families" affected by such violence, Godreche told the Senate's women's rights committee.

Following her words to the Senate, Godreche said, “I am speaking as loud as I can and trying to push the door as open as possible and yet nothing is really happening because of the way the system is being built for years and years".

"I think there is something about French society that is somehow still anchored into like the Moyen Age (the Middle Ages),” she added.

Godrèche has become a leading voice in France's #MeToo movement after accusing two French directors of raping or sexually abusing her when she was 14 and 15 and they were in their 40s. 

She was invited to speak at the Césars last Friday about sexual violence after other actors alleged they were teenage victims of sexual abuse by directors decades older than themselves.

Despite receiving a thunderous ovation for her speech, she said she would reserve judgment until she sees a fundamental change in French cinematic culture, where the director or creative “auteur” has tremendous power.

Godrèche said, “I feel that it (the US) has a different approach to the sort of the sacralisation of the 'author.' So I am hoping that things will change. Will they change? I only believe in action, not in applause.”

While living in the United States for ten years, Godrèche also spoke up about Harvey Weinstein during the #MeToo movement, accusing him of sexual assault when she was 24. 

By the time she spoke out, the alleged violence had occurred too long ago to prosecute.

Godrèche said she felt supported in the US when she spoke about Weinstein but less so in France, saying “In this country (France), I feel that it’s not just the men who are the abuser, who are trying to shut down women, it’s the society which for me is bizarre and obviously it’s what I’m fighting and this is why I find myself talking and talking over again.”

Rape and sexual abuse allegations

Godrèche, 51, is well known to French cinemagoers. She recently accused two film directors of rape and sexual abuse when she was a teenager. 


She formally filed a complaint earlier this month, the Paris prosecutor said.

The actor is accusing film director Benoît Jacquot, with whom she had a six-year relationship that started when she was 14, of rape and physical abuse. Jacquot, a prominent director in France, is 25 years her senior.

She is also accusing another film director, Jacques Doillon, of sexual abuse while he was directing a film when she was 15. Doillon is 28 years older than her.

Both Jacquot and Doillon have denied the allegations.

Godrèche previously spoke about her relationship with Jacquot, without naming him, in an autobiographical television show called “Icon of French Cinema” that was released in December.


Jacquot responded in Le Monde newspaper, stating that he “doesn’t feel directly concerned” by Godrèche’s accusations, with whom he said he fell in love at the time. He denied any abuse of authority.

Doillon has said that “the just cause doesn’t justify arbitrary denunciations, false accusations and lies”.

During her speech to the French Senate Godrèche also called for Dominique Boutonnat to be removed from his position as president of the powerful National Centre of Cinema (CNC).

Boutonnat has been accused of sexually assaulting his godson in 2020, an allegation he denies.

In 2022, the French government appointed him to serve a second mandate, much to the dismay of feminist associations.


Following her accusations against Jacquot and Doillon, other women have decided to speak out. 

Godrèche has said she had received 4500 testimonies from victims of sexual violence since launching an appeal on social media.

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