Polish Director Launches Campaign Against Harassment

Malgoska Szumowska

'Mug' director Malgorzata Szumowska read a manifesto to kick off Speak Up.

Polish director Malgorzata Szumowska on Saturday called for a halt to sexual harassment in the film industry during the launch of a pan-European campaign to tackle inappropriate behavior and sexual misconduct amid the #MeToo and Time's Up movements. 

"For too long, abuse has been brushed off and ignored. Victims of abuse are belittled and their concerns dismissed," Szumowska insisted while reading out the Speak Up manifesto during the "Closing the Gap" conference at the Berlin International Film Festival.

"But the men and women of this industry have decided that enough is enough," said Szumowska, whose latest film, Mug, is screening in the fest's competition lineup. "Enough of dismissing inappropriate groping and fondling as drunken behavior or harmless flirting," she added. "Enough of dismissing harassment and bullying as 'banter' and the victims as lacking a sense of humor. Enough of professional encounters being set up in private rooms. ... Enough of blaming the victims,"

The Speak Up campaign includes a dedicated website and a telephone hotline for victims of sexual abuse and harassment so they can get support and pro-bono legal advice.

Daniela Elstne, managing director of Paris-based Doc & Film International and president of French sales agent organization ADEF, told the Speak Up launch event that the campaign aimed to influence an evolving industry debate towards gender parity and respect in the film industry.

"We want to continue a dialogue about how to ensure a safe and secure working space for the younger generation, especially in the very specific world of [film] festivals, where we're out of our usual working and family context," she said.

The launch of the Speak Up campaign follows widespread allegations of sexual harassment and assault by top film industry talent and executives in Hollywood and elsewhere ahead of the launch of the #MeToo and Time's Up movements.

"We should stand together for what seems so obvious — creating the best and most free working environments to create moments of art and cinema, and through that creation, to address all questions about our society today and tomorrow," Elstne added.