French Director Found Guilty Of Sexual Harassment

20th December 2005

Jean-Claude Brisseau, who won the French Cineaste award at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival, has been found guilty of sexually harassing two aspiring actresses in auditions for his film Les Choses Sec

Jean-Claude Brisseau, who won the French Cineaste award at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival, has been found guilty of sexually harassing two aspiring actresses in auditions for his film Les Choses Secretes. The sexually explicit film, in which two young females use sex to improve their lot, involves scenes of female masturbation, an act Brisseau asked two women to perform in a series of auditions held between 1999 and 2001, before deciding that the actresses were not right for the roles.

The auditions were sometimes filmed by Brisseau, and during the investigation he admitted masturbating during the sessions, although he withdrew this statement when the case came to court. He defended the auditions, stating: "These erotic auditions are indispensable...They allow me to find out qualities and problems with their bodies and their acting ... Actresses hired for these auditions knew exactly what the subject of the film was and doing it of their own free will."

Brisseau has been given a one-year suspended jail sentence, and fined 15,000 euros, plus damages of 7,500 euros. He was found innocent on counts of sexual assault upon the actresses, and fraud.

Before Les Choses Secretes, Brisseau was best known for Noce Blanche, which gave Vanessa Paradis her film debut as a girl who seduces her teacher.

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