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German star Til Schweiger is installing new on-set safeguards intended to prevent sexual harassment of female colleagues and make it easier for women to come forward with claims of abuse.
Schweiger, one of Germany’s most famous actors and successful directors, said he will have two harassment representatives on the set of his next film. They will be people unconnected to the project whom crewmembers can contact if they have grievances or complaints.
The Inglourious Basterds actor made the announcement Friday as the German film industry wrestles with the impact of the #MeToo movement and after new allegations of abuse leveled at German director Dieter Wedel. Wedel, who was a hugely successful television director in Germany in the 1970s and ’80s, has been accused by several actresses of harassment and abuse, including multiple charges of rape. The German media have labeled him “our Harvey Weinstein,” referring to the disgraced Hollywood producer whose alleged serial abuse of actresses was the spark that ignited the #MeToo movement last year.
German police are investigating one of the claims against Wedel. Most of the accusations stem from incidents that occurred decades ago and are no longer subject to Germany’s statute of limitations. Wedel denied the first series of abuse allegations, but has not commented as several more women have come forward with new claims. He resigned from his post as head of a German theater festival, citing medical problems resulting from the recent media attention.
The Wedel case has led to soul searching in the German industry, which saw itself as largely immune from the harassment scandals that shook Hollywood. Particularly damning is evidence that some of Wedel’s accusers were ignored after filing formal complaints against him decades ago with German networks and production companies.
Schweiger has defended the women who have come forward. “We have to say: We understand why you suffered for so long and, for so long, didn’t have the courage,” Schweiger told German media. “And not say: For 20 years you had your chance, so shut up.”