French star Adele Haenel accuses director of harassing her since she was 12 years old

Adele Haenel, the star of Cannes prize-winning film Portrait of a Lady on Fire has accused director Christophe Ruggia of sexually harassing her for years​

author_img Shwetha S Published :  05th November 2019 01:35 PM IANS   |   Published :   |  05th November 2019 01:35 PM
French actress Adele HaenelAdele-Haenel

French actress Adele Haenel

Adele Haenel, the star of Cannes prize-winning film Portrait of a Lady on Fire and French Oscar submission BPM, has accused director Christophe Ruggia of sexually harassing her for years, starting when she was just 12-years-old.

Haenel said that Ruggia, who directed her in the 2002 drama The Devils (Les Diables), repeatedly made advances toward her, including unwanted touching and kisses, until she was 15.

Haenel said she told people several years ago about the incidents, well before the rise of the #MeToo movement, but felt moved to speak out publicly now because of the documentary on Michael Jackson, Leaving Neverland, and news that Ruggia was prepping a new film with two protagonists with the same names as her and her co-star's characters in The Devils.

Ruggia has denied the allegations, calling them defamatory. 

In a statement, he said that he and Haenel had enjoyed a professional and affectionate relationship that was in no way untoward. 

A French website previously published a lengthy investigation into multiple allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct by EuropaCorp founder Luc Besson.

In its report on Haenel and Ruggia, the website said it had spoken to numerous colleagues and friends of Haenel and had access to documents that backed up her account.

Haenel, 30, has won two Cesar awards, France's equivalent of the Oscars. 

In Celine Sciamma's Portrait of a Lady on Fire, which won the screenwriting prize at Cannes, she plays an aristocratic young woman who falls in love with the artist hired to paint her portrait.

In The Devils, shot when she was 12, Haenel starred as one of a pair of runaway siblings. 

She said that, after the film was completed and went on the festival circuit, Ruggia continued to make overtures to her until she was 15, creating an environment of "permanent sexual harassment" through unwanted touching of her torso and thighs and kisses on her neck. 

Haenel stopped acting during that period until she was cast in Sciamma's Water Lilies (Naissance des pieuvres).

Ruggia's only directing credit after The Devils has been for 2011's In Turmoil

He has been developing a new project with characters named Chloe and Joseph -- the names of the leading characters in The Devils.

Bertrand Faivre, a producer on both The Devils and In Turmoil who has been working with Ruggia on the new project, said he curtailed his involvement on the project over the summer after learning that Mediapart was investigating possible misconduct by Ruggia. 

Faivre also said Haenel told him several years ago that Ruggia had misbehaved with her, but she did not specify what the alleged misconduct was.

In the report, Haenel said she hoped her story would help bring an end to the abuse of women and children and the impunity of their assailants.