Bruno Barde

Source: Marechal Aurore/ABACA/Shutterstock

Bruno Barde

Bruno Barde, the longtime artistic director of the Deauville American Film Festival and managing director of French Le Public Système Cinema which oversees Deauville and four other festivals, has been suspended from both roles after being accused of sexual misconduct by seven former female employees.

The allegations were published by online publication Mediapart. Le Public Système’s parent company the Hopscotch Group said it is taking “the reports very seriously” and that Barde has been “officially relieved of his duties while the necessary investigations are carried out”.

Barde “firmly denies” the accusations of harassment, sexual assault, sexist remarks and humiliation. He told Mediapart he has a “Latin temperament” and is “an aesthete who perhaps compliments too easily”. He maintained he had made “no remarks of a sexual nature, nor the slightest gesture or incitement of a sexual or sexist nature” towards his staff.

Barde heads up several festivals in addition to Deauville including the Gerardmer fantasy festival, crime thriller festival Reims Polar; Le Public Système represented eight films at May’s Cannes including six in Competition.

Hopscotch said a new team is being constructed and will be announced in the next few days. Le Public Système’s Alexis Delage-Toriel, director of press relations and communications, and Jérôme Lasserre, director of programming, are overseeing management duties in the interim. The company said it has appointed an independent body to set up a system for listening to and supporting employees moving forward at Le Public Système Cinéma.

According to Mediapart, the accusations against Barde stem from incidents between 2014 and 2023, but the group said no official complaints were made to its human resources teams during that time. Mediapart reported the sexual misconduct allegations included offers of massages and baths, putting hands up employees’ shirts and unwanted touching to a “toxic” workplace environment, “mood swings” and “humiliation”.

The exposé is the latest in a stream of accusations published in various media as part of a fresh French #MeToo wave and follows another Mediapart report just days earlier accusing Cannes delegate general Thierry Fremaux of “brutal management” of the Cannes Film Festival and Lumière Festival.

The 50th anniversary edition of Deauville American Film Festival will run from September 6-15.