Berlin: Veteran German Actress Hanna Schygulla Criticizes #MeToo

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Hanna Schygulla

The star of 'The Marriage of Maria Braun' and 'Lilli Marleen' says the anti-harassment movement has led to "people touching each other less” and recalls being slapped by director Rainer Werner Fassbinder.

Iconic German actress Hanna Schygulla (The Marriage of Maria Braun, Lilli Marleen) has become the latest prominent figure to push back against the #MeToo movement.

Schygulla revealed that she herself had been the victim of violence while shooting a movie with late German director Rainer Werner Fassbinder, but appeared to side with #MeToo critics.

“When I started making films, Fassbinder slapped me in the face and said I had to take it,” the 74-year-old actress said Sunday at the Berlin International Film Festival, where she is appearing in the competition film The Prayer from French director Cedric Kahn. “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.”

Schygulla's comments follow those from European film notables, including French star Catherine Deneuve and Oscar-winning Austrian director Michael Haneke, who have voiced worries about #MeToo heralding a new era of intolerance and puritanism. Deneuve was among 100 women from entertainment, academia, the arts and media in France who signed an editorial in the French newspaper Le Monde, criticizing the #MeToo movement for supposedly restricting sexual freedom.

The #MeToo debate has dominated discussion at this year's Berlinale. Festival organizers expressed support for the movement, but they set off an online backlash by inviting South Korean director Kim Ki-duk, who has been accused of slapping an actress on one of his sets and forcing her to perform unscripted nude sex scenes. A South Korean court fined Kim for assault but dropped a sexual abuse charge,  citing lack of evidence. Kim on Friday presented his latest film, the graphically violent Human, Space, Time and Human, which is screening in Berlin's Panorama sidebar.