German actress Hanna Schygulla has become the latest high-profile critics of the #MeToo movement after saying that there is a “problem” that people are touching each other less.
Schygulla, who was speaking in Berlin, where she is promoting Cédric Kahn’s drama The Prayer, joins the likes of French actress Catherine Deneuve and Austrian director Michael Haneke, who have both taken swipes at the movement.
She highlighted her work with late German director Rainer Werner Fassbinder on films such as The Marriage of Maria Braun and Effi Briest. “When I started making films, Fassbinder slapped me in the face and said I had to take it. I know that there is a taboo about this kind of thing now. But there is a problem these days that people are touching each other less.”
In the 1970s, Schygulla famously fell out with Fassbinder, who died in 1982, over divergent interpretations of her character in Effi Briest, as well as her low pay on the movie, before reuniting with him on The Marriage of Maria Braun.
Her comments follow similar comments from Deneuve, who signed an open letter published in Le Mondetoday rejecting what it sees as a new puritanism in the wake of the sexual harassment and assault scandals, as well as Haneke, who earlier this month called the movement a “witch hunt”.
The #MeToo movement has dominated the conversation at the Berlin Film Festival. Earlier today, a group of European organisations including WIFT Germany, WIFT Nordic and the Swedish Film Institute, launched the Speak Up campaign.
Director Malgorzata Szumowska, who is launching her latest film Mug at the festival, said, “This initiative is important for me as the mother of a five-year-old girl. I want a different environment for her in the future, one in which she feels more comfortable than I did,” before adding “I’m also thinking about all of those women who are afraid to talk out loud about what has happened to them. I believe this kind of action can change a lot.”
Daniela Elstner, who runs Paris-based Doc & Film International and president of French sales agent organisation ADEF, added that the scheme offers a platform through which victims or witnesses of sexual harassment can report misconduct and receive legal advice when needed. “It is time for us all to unite under the same banner to proactively combat systemic sexual harassment and power imbalances. We need to stand together to create a safe environment so that we can focus on what brought us all here in the first place: our common love of Art and Cinema.“
Earlier during the festival, the organizers resisted pressure to turn the focus of the opening premiere to the #MeToo campaign and rejected a call to replace the red carpet with a black one. Chief Dieter Kosslick said he wanted the festival’s activities to “delve deeper into the #MeToo discourse, deeper than our carpet allows… So laying out a black carpet at the Berlinale is not the path we have chosen.”
This followed the campaign, led by launched by German actress Claudia Eisinger (Too Hard To Handle, Tatort), to switch the color of the carpet to a more somber tone.