French Director and Producer Deny Wrongdoing on Set of Cannes Palme d’Or Contender

French Director and Producer Deny Wrongdoing on Set of Cannes Palme d’Or Contender

French director Catherine Corsini and her producer Elisabeth Perez have published an open letter denying allegations of wrongdoing on the set of their upcoming film, Le Retour. Reports have emerged of a lack of safeguarding for minors on set, as well as mistreatment of crew members and young actors during the film’s shoot in Corsica at the end of last year. Despite concerns that the film would be denied a slot in Cannes Film Festival’s main Competition, an investigation by the event has allowed the title to be included among 13 feature additions to the Official Selection.


Corsini and Perez have denied the allegations of anonymous and defamatory emails that have been sent to the profession and the press, creating a damaging rumour for the film. An open letter was posted on Tuesday evening, signed off by Corsini and Perez under the banner of their Paris-based Chaz Productions. The letter further addressed the facts around an intimate scene involving two young actors, aged 15 and a half and 17 years old. Although the scene was filmed with the adolescents’ faces, it was not declared to the relevant body overseeing the protection of minors on set. The production’s failure to declare the scene resulted in the body taking back $513,000 in state funding. The CNC reported the incident to the Prosecutor’s Office, although no individual complaints have been lodged against the production or Corsini on any count. The scene did not make the final cut of the film. The open letter addressed other allegations of harassment and poor working conditions, which were said to have been dealt with correctly.

The news of Le Retour’s addition to the competition has divided the French film industry. Respected producer Marc Missonnier has criticised the decision, saying that the festival is out of touch and ignoring issues of limits, especially in scenes of a sexual nature. France’s gender equality body, Collectif 50/50, signalled its consternation at the film’s selection, calling for better monitoring of conditions on set by government labour agencies. It also said that more obligatory training for producers and increased workplace inspections are necessary to ensure that conditions on film sets adhere to national penal and labour laws.

It remains to be seen whether the open letter will quell the media storm ahead of the film’s world premiere in Cannes, as reports continue to emerge. Le Retour reunites Corsini with Aïssatou Diallo Sagna, a discovery of her last film, The Divide, in the role of a woman who travels to Corsica with her wealthy Paris employers to look after their children over the summer. The mother is accompanied by her teenage daughters on a trip taking them back to the island they left years previously under tragic circumstances. While the mother struggles with her memories, the girls embark on a summer of pleasure and discovery about their past.


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