Belgian Film Collective Demands Reforms Amid Harassment Allegations

Sarhan Basem

Brussels (Brussels Morning) – A Belgian film collective advocates against systemic violence in the industry following allegations against director Joachim Lafosse. They call for reforms, including training and legal protections, to combat harassment and improve workplace conditions in film.

A Belgian film collective is urging an end to “systemic violence” in the film industry following a spate of harassment allegations against director Joachim Lafosse. 

What prompted ‘Elle Font Des Films’ to call for reforms?

Earlier this month, the French newspaper Libération disclosed that 12 women had blamed Lafosse for bullying, sexual harassment and improper behaviour over the course of his 20-year career.  

The probe into Lafosse was initiated following the Magritte Awards in 2022 when film editor Sophie Vercruysse made a discourse deploring that “the world of cinema, including in Belgium, is all too frequently a world where abuse of power is noticed as inherent to the discipline […] This system must end.” Vercruysse performed with Lafosse on six films and ultimately recounted her personal affairs with him to Libération, confirming that her comments at the award ceremony targeted the 49-year-old director.

In light of these circumstances, the film collective ‘Elle Font Des Films’ has restated its support for victims and has called for an end to harassment in the film industry. 

“We cannot pretend that there is no problem,” the organisation said. “For several years now, ‘Elles Font Des Films’, along with other professional federations and associations, has been sounding the alarm and joining forces to put an end to the systemic violence which is plaguing the Belgian audiovisual landscape.”

What reforms are proposed to combat harassment in films?

It has called for a number of steps to improve the workplace for all. These include free training courses to fight sexist and sexual violence for producers and directors, complimentary training for anti-harassment referents, growth of “intimacy coordinator” roles and more investment in statistics-driven analyses about minority experiences of the film set.

One important direction is for the State to take stock of all pre-existing testimonies of sexual brutality in the industry. The website ‘Paye Ton Tournage’ records over 500, and ‘Elles Font Des Films’ feels that such a wealth of testimonies can be utilised to develop a legal framework to cover people in vulnerable situations on set.

“There is an urgent requirement to develop legislation which takes account of the distinctive characteristics of the film industry (strong hierarchy, precarious and short-term contracts, etc.) so that offensive behaviour can no longer have a place in our industry,” the collective said.

“It is time to get out of this system, in which connections of domination have been accepted as the norm for too long, right from film school.”

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Sarhan Basem is Brussels Morning's Senior Correspondent to the European Parliament. With a Bachelor's degree in English Literature, Sarhan brings a unique blend of linguistic finesse and analytical prowess to his reporting. Specializing in foreign affairs, human rights, civil liberties, and security issues, he delves deep into the intricacies of global politics to provide insightful commentary and in-depth coverage. Beyond the world of journalism, Sarhan is an avid traveler, exploring new cultures and cuisines, and enjoys unwinding with a good book or indulging in outdoor adventures whenever possible.