France’s President of National Film Board, Dominique Boutonnat, to Stand Trial for Alleged Sexual Assault in June

Dominique Boutonnat, the president of the National Film Board (CNC), the country’s most powerful film institution, will stand trial for alleged sexual assault starting on June 14, Variety has confirmed.

Boutonnat was indicted in February 2021 for the alleged sexual assault of his 22-year-old godson in 2020. It took over two years for the Nanterre Court to set a start date for the trial, which will kick off after the upcoming edition of the Cannes Film Festival. The information was first reported by the online publication “L’Informé.”

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When contacted by Variety, the CNC declined to comment. It’s unknown whether Boutonnat, whose term ends in 2025, will remain in post during the trial.

The National Film Board plays a crucial role in allocating subsidies to French TV and film producers, establishing selection committees and boards, as well as setting guidelines for the whole industry.

In spite of the indictment, Boutonnat was appointed by the French government for a second three-year term as president of the institution in July 2022, prompting many French insiders to point out Boutonnat’s close ties with French President Emmanuel Macron and former culture minister Rima Abdul-Malak.

Some French figures, including actor-director Judith Godrèche — who recently accused French filmmakers Benoit Jacquot and Jacques Doillon of sexually assaulting her when she was a teenager — also argued that the decision to maintain Boutonnat at the helm of the National Film Board symbolized the country’s reluctance to embrace the #MeToo movement. Others, meanwhile, have claimed Boutonnat should stay in post because he benefits from the presumption of innocence. Boutonnat has denied all accusations.

Four years ago, Boutonnat played a role in the creation of a nationwide sexual harassment prevention program, which requires every producer in the film and TV sector to complete training to be eligible for public funding. During a hearing at the Senate last week, Godrèche, who was there to suggest ways to fight sexual violence in the French film industry, said producers were not taking the training to prevent sexual assault and harassment seriously because Boutonnat was still in his position. In the wake of the hearing, the president of the Senate and other political figures wrote to the current culture minister, Rachida Dati, to demand that Boutonnat step down.

France is currently undergoing a new #MeToo wave which is dominating news cycles and policy debates. Godrèche’s allegations are among several new sexual assault complaints filed in recent months. The new reckoning kicked off in early December with the airing of an investigative documentary about actor Gerard Depardieu.

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