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Cannes Film Festival faces new era after #MeToo "tectonic shift"

Organisers of the event have set up a telephone hotline for victims of harassment, and several discussion groups will address the issue during the fortnight where stars are sure to use the festival as a platform to speak out.

FILE: Cannes jury head Cate Blanchett. Picture: AFP.

CANNES - The annual Cannes Film Festival opens this week for the first time since sexual harassment allegations shocked the global movie industry and led to the creation of the “Me Too” movement to demand greater respect for and representation of women.

Organisers of the event which runs from 8 to 19 May have set up a telephone hotline for victims of harassment, and several discussion groups will address the issue during the fortnight where stars are sure to use the festival as a platform to speak out.

Cate Blanchett heads the majority-female jury that will choose the winner of the Palme d’Or for best film.

Here is a timeline of some of the main events since October last year. In most cases those accused of sexual harassment or abuse have denied the allegations:

5 October
The New York Times reports that media mogul Harvey Weinstein made eight settlements with women who had accused him of unwanted physical contact and sexual harassment over three decades. Weinstein’s spokeswoman later responds, saying: “any allegations of non-consensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr Weinstein.”

6 October
Weinstein takes indefinite leave from the Weinstein Co of which he is co-chairman with his brother, Bob. He later resigns.

9 October
Meryl Streep, who likened Weinstein to God in a 2012 awards speech, calls his alleged actions “inexcusable” and Judi Dench, who once joked she had a tattoo of the producer’s face, called the alleged incidents “horrifying”. Both said they were unaware of his decades of alleged sexual harassment of women.

10 October
The New Yorker reports allegations by 13 women that Weinstein sexually harassed or assaulted them, including three who said they had been raped. Weinstein has consistently denied non-consensual sex.

11 October
Weinstein is suspended from the British film academy Bafta, “in light of recent very serious allegations”. Weinstein had been one of Bafta’s New York trustees and regularly threw a party ahead of its annual prize ceremony.

12 October
Amazon Studios chief Roy Price is put on an immediate leave of absence following allegations that he harassed producer Isa Hackett and ignored an actress’s claim of sexual assault by Weinstein. He later resigns. Price has not made any public comment.

14 October
The Academy of Motion Pictures expels Weinstein who in his day had succeeded in pushing many of his movies to Oscar glory and himself won one for producing Shakespeare in Love. Weinstein made no comment.

15 October
Actress Alyssa Milano asks her Twitter followers to reply “Me Too” if they had ever been sexually harassed or assaulted. Millions of women across the world share their experiences of harassment and abuse using the hashtag #MeToo.

20 October
French Gender Equality Minister Marlene Schiappa tells Reuters that France will get serious about sexual harassment, saying: “We are really at a turning point, with the Weinstein affair as a trigger.”

30 October
BuzzFeed publishes accusations by actor Anthony Rapp that movie star Kevin Spacey made sexual advances on him when he was 14 years old, 30 years ago. Spacey apologises and at the same time comes out as gay.

Netflix says it plans to end the landmark political drama House of Cards after one final season, but that this decision was taken before the allegation was made against Spacey, the series’ lead actor. Spacey is dropped from the series for the final season.

1 November
The _Los Angeles Times _reports six women have accused Brett Ratner, director of X-Men: The Last Stand and Horrible Bosses, of sexual harassment or misconduct. Ratner’s attorney denies what he calls the “outrageous, derogatory allegations”.

Dustin Hoffman responds to an allegation of sexual harassment by a teenage intern on a film set more than 30 years ago: “I have the utmost respect for women and feel terrible that anything I might have done could have put her in an uncomfortable situation. I am sorry.”

8 November
The makers of All the Money in the World, a biopic of tycoon John Paul Getty directed by Ridley Scott, announce Kevin Spacey will be replaced from the lead role which he had already shot for the movie due to open on 22 December. Scenes are rapidly reshot with Christopher Plummer taking his place.

9 November
The _New York Times _reports sexual misconduct allegations against comedian Louis C.K. The next day, the distributor of his film I Love You Daddy scraps its release, a week before the movie that he wrote, directed and starred in is due to open in cinemas. The comedian admits the allegations are true and expresses his remorse.

12 November
Reuters reports on allegations of sexual abuse in the Indian film industry.

16 November
London’s Old Vic theatre says it has received 20 separate allegations of inappropriate conduct by its former artistic director Kevin Spacey between 1995 and 2013 from 20 men after it launched an investigation into the actor. Spacey has not commented on the allegations.

21 November
Walt Disney Co executive John Lasseter, who headed animation at Disney and Pixar, takes a six-month leave of absence following what he called “missteps” including unwanted hugs that made employees uncomfortable.

6 December
Time magazine names #MeToo movement 'Person of the Year'.

1 January
Launch of the multi-million dollar Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund to help support legal cases against alleged perpetrators of sexual harassment.

4 January
Cate Blanchett, a vocal campaigner against sexual harassment following the Weinstein scandal, is announced as head of the main jury at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.

7 January
Nominees, presenters and guests at the Golden Globes awards wear black in support of victims of sexual harassment. Host Seth Meyers addresses the scandal head-on with jokes and barbed comments. Actress Jessica Chastain tells reporters: “We’re here for the Time’s Up movement ... We stand in solidarity against any abuse of power.”

Stars including Reese Witherspoon, Oprah Winfrey and Laura Dern use the event to address sexual harassment. Frances McDormand says they are all part of “a tectonic shift in our industry’s power structure”.

9 January
Actress Catherine Deneuve and 99 other French women call the #Metoo campaign – known in France as #balancetonporc (SquealOnYourPig) – a form of puritanism fuelled by “hatred of men.” French feminists respond by saying: “they are trying to build back the wall of silence we have started breaking down.”

11 January
LA Times reports that five women have accused actor James Franco of inappropriate or sexually exploitative behaviour. Franco calls the allegations “inaccurate”.

Silvio Berlusconi, who resigned as Italy’s prime minister mired in scandal over his “Bunga Bunga” parties with young women and under investigation into sex with an underage prostitute, says Deneuve’s comments on #MeToo were “blessed words”.

“It’s natural that women are happy if a man tries to seduce them,” he says in a television interview.

12 January
Sundance Film Festival launches a hotline for people to report inappropriate behaviour at the event that runs 18-28 January.

“The accusations are abhorrent and profoundly disturbing. We recognise that too often a pattern of abuse like this one thrives in the shadows, and we stand in solidarity with the courageous women whose honesty has helped shine a light on it,” the festival says.

13 January
Website babe.net publishes an interview with an anonymous woman who says a date with comedian Aziz Ansari left her feeling violated. Ansari says he is “surprised and concerned” and the case prompts a debate about whether bad sex is being mistaken for sexual assault.

18 January
French former actress Brigitte Bardot tells Paris Match that most complaints of sexual harassment by actresses are “hypocritical, ridiculous and pointless”.

20 January
The Producers Guild of America (PGA) drafts guidelines aimed at preventing sexual harassment, recommending anti-sexual harassment training for cast and crew and urging producers to conduct meetings and casting sessions in a “professional, safe and comfortable” environment.

27 January
The Academy of Motion Pictures announces a mechanism for people to report misconduct, saying: “This is only a small step towards the larger goal of encouraging workplace environments that support creativity, equality, and respect, and align with the Academy’s mission.”

15 February
Amazon Studios announces it has dropped Jeffrey Tambor from Transparent, a series for which he won an Emmy for his portrayal of a transgender character. Tambor calls allegations of sexual harassment which emerged in November false and says he is “profoundly disappointed” by Amazon’s decision.

28 February
More than 100 actresses and film professionals in France, including Vanessa Paradis and Diane Kruger, launch their own movement against sexual violence, and say they will sport white ribbons at a French awards event.

4 March
The first Oscars ceremony since the scandal broke salutes the #MeToo movement with calls for an end to sexual harassment and greater inclusion of ethnic minorities in filmmaking.

Best actress winner Frances McDormand asks all female nominees to stand up.

“We all have stories to tell and projects we need financed. Don’t talk to us about it at the parties tonight. Invite us into your office in a couple days or you can come to ours, whichever suits you best, and we can tell you all about them,” she says in a speech which calls for “inclusion riders” - clauses in movie contracts to improve racial and gender equality.

16 April
The _New York Times _and the New Yorker magazine receive a Pulitzer prize for their reports on sexual harassment and abuse in Hollywood, politics, the media and Silicon Valley.

2 May
Before travelling to Cannes to head the jury, Cate Blanchett addresses the MeToo movement in an interview with Variety: “Women have said, ‘The window is open now - see how sweet the air smells.’ I feel like the dam has broken.”

3 May
The Academy of Motion Pictures expels comedian Bill Cosby and Oscar-winning director Roman Polanski, the first known members expelled for violating a code of conduct adopted in December following hundreds of accusations of sexual harassment or assault in the entertainment industry.

Cosby, 80, was convicted a week earlier of drugging and sexually assaulting a woman in 2004 and faces up to 30 years in prison. Cosby’s lawyers say he plans to appeal.

Polanski, 84, admitted having unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl in Los Angeles in the 1970s. The French-Polish director lives in France after fleeing the United States following pleading guilty, for fear his deal with prosecutors would be overruled and he would get a lengthy prison term. The case in Los Angeles is still open and the United States has made several unsuccessful attempts to extradite Polanski to serve time.

He was on the red carpet in Cannes last year presenting his movie Based on a True Story in an out-of-competition slot.

On the Academy’s decision, Polanski’s attorney Harland Braun says: “This is very disappointing. It’s just shocking that the Academy would expel someone without a fair hearing.”

A Cosby representative did not respond to a request seeking comment.

4 May
The Swedish Academy which decides the Nobel Prize for Literature says it will not make the award this year because of a sexual misconduct scandal that has led to a string of board members stepping down.

“We find it necessary to commit time to recovering public confidence in the Academy before the next laureate can be announced,” Anders Olsson, interim permanent secretary of the body, says. The Academy plans to award two prizes in 2019, including the 2018 one.

7 May
“It’s not the Cannes Festival that changed, the whole world has changed since September last year,” festival director Thierry Fremaux tells a news conference.

8 to 19 May
The 71st edition of the Cannes Film Festival takes place on the French Riviera.