Dominique Boutonnat

Source: Eric Bonté/CNC

Dominique Boutonnat

The French cinema world has been shaken up once again as the president of the country’s National Cinema Centre, the CNC, will stand trial for an alleged sexual assault.

Dominique Boutonnat, one of the most powerful figures in French cinema, has been accused by his 22-year-old godson of sexual assault while on holiday in Greece in August 2020 when the accuser was 21 years old. Boutonnat was first placed under investigation in October 2020 following the complaint before the indictment in February 2021.

Boutonnat will now stand trial, but the accusations of “attempted rape” have been denied and he will stand trial for “aggressions sexuelles” or sexual assault in French.

In April, the Nanterre public prosecutor’s office requested the case be brought to trial before a criminal court and the judge has opted to force Boutonnat to face trial instead of dropping the case entirely.

Boutonnat adamantly denies the allegations and his lawyer has even hinted he may sue his accuser.

He joined the CNC as president in July 2019 after a long career in film financing and production and was reappointed to the prestigious position last July for a three-year mandate.

Amid a backdrop of industry-wide outrage for his reappointment – several French film organisations including France’s director’s guild the SRF and feminist advocacy group 50/50 issued public statements denouncing Boutonnat before he was re-elected – France’s minister of culture Rima Abdul Malak threw her support behind him. She told local press: “He is under investigation, not convicted. It will be up to the courts to decide.”

She also noted the CNC “has been a pioneer in the fight against sexual and sexist violence” and argued there is no law requiring the withdrawal or resignation of a civil servant under investigation.

The allegations against Boutonnat came just after he announced a new CNC initiative to combat sexual violence in the French film and audiovisual industry.

Despite the ongoing investigations and industry protests against him, Boutonnat has not kept a low profile and has attended major industry events such as the Cannes and Venice film festivals.

“This matter relates to Dominique Boutonnat’s private life and not to his work at the CNC,  so for this reason, we have no comment on the situation,” the CNC’s deputy CEO Olivier Henrard told Screen on Friday.

“The CNC continues to function normally and Dominique Boutonnat is perfectly executing his duties as president.”


This story was updated at 18.45 BST with comment from the CNC.