Dominique Boutonnat is Back as President of France’s National Film Board Despite Indictment

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Dominique Boutonnat has been appointed by the French government to serve a second three-year mandate as president of the National Film Board (CNC) despite the fact that he’s been indicted for alleged sexual assault and could now face trial.

Boutonnat, a former producer and financier who was appointed president of the CNC in July 2019, is known for having close ties to President Emmanuel Macron, who was recently re-elected for a second term. Boutonnat has also been championed by France’s new culture minister, Rima Abdul Malak, who told Le Parisien newspaper in June that the presumption of innocence must be respected since the ruling had not been delivered. Several film organizations, including the SRF (France’s directors’ guild) and 50/50, the feminist and advocacy group, issued statements protesting against the prospects of having Boutonnat serve a second mandate, but in vain.

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When unveiling its temporary leadership on July 7, 50/50 said it deemed “unthinkable the fact that the president of the National Film Board (CNC), Dominique Boutonnat, who has been indicted for sexual assault and attempted rape, could be re-appointed as CNC president.”

Abdul Malak’s predecessor, Roselyne Bachelot, had also allowed Boutonnat to stay in post after the formal investigation begun, telling local press that he had the “reputation of being innocent.”

Boutonnat has been under formal investigation for an alleged sexual assault on his 22-year-old godson since February 2021. In April, the Nanterre public prosecutor’s office requested that Boutonnat’s case is brought before a criminal court following a 14-month investigation. A judge is now expected to determine whether Boutonnat will face trial. According to the AFP, the prosecutors’ office has ruled out the attempted rape charge but is maintaining the sexual assault claim.

Days before he was accused of sexual assault and attempted rape, Boutonnat announced the launch of a series of workshops aimed at training all industry professionals against sexual harassment during shoots and in the work environment.

Reacting to the news of Boutonnat’s second mandate, a representative for the SRF told Variety on Wednesday that it is sending the “wrong signal” to the industry and goes against the core mission of those workshops. The representative also questioned the nomination process and argued it should involve several candidates. “Other institutions have a board proceed with proper elections and that’s the way it should work for the CNC president rather than have the government make the appointment,” the spokesperson continued.

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