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Le Monde
Le Monde
6 Jan 2024

Images Le
Séverin Millet

After rift caused by Depardieu, how can French cinema pick up the pieces?

Published today at 4:57 pm (Paris)

Time to 7 min. Lire en français

On December 27, 2023, Laurène Marx, 36, an actress and playwright who identifies as a non-binary trans woman, published a message on her Instagram account from the Je t'accapare theater company, which she created with director Fanny Sintès. The day before, an open letter entitled "Don't erase Gérard Depardieu" appeared in the conservative French newspaper Le Figaro, and their blood ran cold. In their message on Instagram, the two women announced that they had been invited to play at Châteauvallon, southeastern France, in "the theater of Charles Berling, who signed this vile letter," and would not be going, "out of solidarity with the victims and girls who ride horses." "Just know that we're coming to get you and we can't wait for you to disappear and be forgotten (...) We'll be there to applaud the moment you fall. See you soon."

Berling still hasn't recovered. "Two weeks ago, I had a good reputation, and now there are people who want me dead. You're a progressive and, all of a sudden, you're in the reactionary camp." The eternally left-wing actor and theater director quickly backtracked when he realized, a little late, that what he thought was a simple rant against canceling yesterday's storied works and artists had in fact been launched by an actor with connections to the far right. He agreed that "signing was a mistake." "I was naive, I didn't see it coming. The condemnation was immediate and without appeal. We live in a strange atmosphere. We're on one side or the other, there's no in-between possible, people refuse to talk," despaired Berling. "I'd like to talk, I'd like people to talk. I come from a Mediterranean family, and we've had a lot of quarrels, but not now. I can't stand cancel culture anymore... And now I'm left with: 'Erase Berling.'"

Actress Victoria Abril (Pedro Almodovar's ex-muse), who also signed the letter, announced that she is filing a defamation suit against the actress Lucie Lucas, her coworker on the TV show Clem. On Instagram, Lucas wrote: "I've been an actress for 15 years, and I protect a lot of these degenerate boomers by not saying in interviews all the bad things they do to other people on film sets. (...) I have a lot to say about some of the people on this delightful list of signatories. Victoria... do you want us to talk about your many assaults including sexual assaults on your partners?" She has since retracted her comments about Abril.

'Trust each other again'

It's Festen in French cinema. Since the investigative TV show Complément d'enquête aired a damning report on Depardieu a month ago, combining his sexist outbursts, his obscene provocations on camera and the charges brought against him − including one for rape − it's not just the actor with 200 films under his belt who finds himself in turmoil, but the entire "big family" of culture.

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