Philippe Garrel

Source: Courtesy of Directors’ Fortnight

Philippe Garrel

French New Wave filmmaker and 2023 Berlin Silver Bear-winning director Philippe Garrel has been accused of sexual assault by several women with whom he has worked in his films. 

In an investigation conducted by France’s Mediapart, Anna Mouglalis and Clotilde Hesme are among five actresses who allege the 75 year-old director made unwanted advances or offered roles in exchange for sexual favours, all in a professional context.

Garrel maintains his innocence and no official charges have been filed in French courts

The director told Mediapart he has “never kissed a woman against her will” and added: “I would like to stress that I have never given false professional hopes to an actress with the aim of seducing her.”

Mouglalis starred in Garrel’s comedy Jealousy which screened at Venice in 2013. She told Mediapart she invited the filmmaker to her apartment to discuss an upcoming project, but found him lying in her bed. She called him a taxi straight away, but said she found his behaviour “insulting,” calling it “a caricature of basic misogyny and machismo.”

Hesme starred in the director’s 2005 Venice Silver Lion-winning coming-of-age romantic drama Regular Lovers opposite his son Louis Garrel and was also one of the elder Garrel’s students at the Arts the Conservatoire de Paris. She alleged the director “humiliated” her during the filming of Regular Lovers, nicknaming her “incest” since, she says, “the love story was between his son and me in the film”.

Just 24 at the time at the incident, Hesme said she is still “flabbergasted” by his behaviour. Garrel denied the accusations, telling Mediapart: “To tell you the truth, I don’t really understand that assertion.”

Hesme responded: “I speak today to support those who do, but also those who can’t.”

Actress Laurence Cordier said she met Garrel to discuss a role and he offered her a hotel room for the two of them. “Instead of accepting a role, I found myself pushing him away,” she says. The filmmaker told Mediapart he “doesn’t remember anything specifically,” but adds: “If Laurence Cordier felt humiliated, I’m sorry.”

Actress Marie Vialle reported that when she was a student in his conservatory class in the 1990s, Garrel told her he had written a feature film role for her, that he was in love with her, and then tried to kiss her before she pushed him away. She told Mediapart he told her “I can’t make the film if I don’t sleep with you.” She refused his advances. She went on to act in his 1999 film Night Wind starring Catherine Deneuve.

Another actress who asked to remain anonymous also told the publication a similar tale of refusing the filmmaker’s unwanted advances at a Paris café when she met him to discuss a role.

Garrel earned this year’s Berlin’s Silver Bear for best director for his latest feature, puppeteering drama The Plough starring his children.

The accusations have come on the opening day of the Venice Film Festival whose edition is also clouded by the selection of a trio of male auteurs accused of past sexual offenses.