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France

Gayet stars in anti-forced marriage film

A still from 14 millions de cris
A still from 14 millions de cris Screen shot/You Tube

A French short film on forced marriages, released to coincide with International Women's Day, has caused a stir but not for the reasons you may expect. The big name in this four-minute film is none other than Julie Gayet, the woman President François Hollande is said to be having an affair with.

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Posted on YouTube, 14 milions de cris (14 million screams) begins with a 12-year-old French girl walking home from school.

Women's rights in France - given or taken?

Everything appears normal - her wealthy, white family lives in an expensive apartment.

But then her mother forces her to wear a white gown.

Music starts playing and the girl is taken to the town hall to be married to a man old enough to be her grandfather.

The film's director Lisa Azuelos says that casting a white family brings the message home harder

"We think this happens to people and little girls in other countries so we can’t relate," she told RFI. "As a filmmaker, I know that it's important that people can relate to the characters. This is the only way to be able to empathise. What I wanted was to make people feel the effect forced marriage can have."

That's why she asked her friend Gayet to play the part of the mother.

"She is very committed, we are committed to various causes together," Azuelos says. "She immediately said yes, and I thought that if it could help the film, it was a good thing."

In France 70,000 young women, mostly from north and west Africa, are forced into marriage each year according to the UN.

Women's Rights Minister Najat Vallaud-Belkacem has repeatedly said the fight against forced marriage was one of her priorities.

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