French film director Jean-Claude Brisseau appeared in a Paris courtroom Thursday to defend himself on charges of sexual assault and harassment. Four young actresses claim he made them masturbate as part of auditions conducted between 1996 and 2001.
The director, credited with discovering Vanessa Paradis, “denies the charges of sexual harassment and sexual assault, insisting in newspaper interviews that the 'erotic auditions', held between 1996 and 2001 for his 2002 feature Choses Secrètes, were justified artistically and 'indispensable' to his work.”
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… The four actresses, two of whom allege the director also tricked them into working for him for nothing, say he abused his authority to gain sexual favours. One told the court Mr Brisseau often asked her to masturbate in front of him, sometimes in public places. She said she did 20 or 30 such “tests” between 1996 and 2001, some of them with another young hopeful. Some sessions were filmed by the director. “He said it was good to improvise all these things now, so as not to waste time on the set. And he said his eye was replacing the camera,” she said.
A lawyer for two of the women, Claire Doubliez, said outside court her clients were afraid “because they have broken the law of silence, and because it may look like they are complaining because they didn't get big parts. They want the court to acknowledge that they were manipulated and sullied, that they are not idiots.” …
In an interview with Libération earlier this year the director said his idea of cinema was “to use sexual feelings in the same way that Hitchcock used fears”. He added: “These erotic auditions are indispensable: I can work on the style and the acting before we film. They allow me to find out qualities and problems with their bodies and their acting.”