Podcast: Sexual harassment in French film industry, tricolor mayoral sashes, and the Sakai incident

Audio 27:21
Spotlight on France episode 33
Spotlight on France episode 33 RFI

Amid concerns that coronavirus could keep voters from turning out for the 15 March local elections, the people making mayoral sashes are still gearing up for business. Also, a look at sexual violence and working for gender parity in French cinema, after a tumultuous Cesar award ceremony. And a little-known incident between France and Japan in the 19th century that both countries might like to put behind them, given their current good relations. 


The spread of coronavirus in France is overshadowing campaigns for the upcoming local elections, the first round of which are to be held on 15 March. But regardless of turnout, one industry is hard at work: the sash-makers who provide mayors with the blue, white and red striped ribbons they drape diagonally across their chests. We visit Baqueville, one of the few remaining companies that still make sashes in France, to talk about the symbolism of the sash, and how this year's election might lead to a lot of business, as a third of mayors are not standing for re-election. (Listen 0'00)

The French cinema industry lit a tinder box at the recent Cesar awards (France's equivalent of the Oscars) when it awarded Roman Polanski, wanted for rape charge in the US, with best director. Opinion in deeply divided over the decision, but one thing is sure: the film industry is very male-dominated. The 50/50 collective is pushing for more parity and measures to counter sexual harassment on film shoots. We talk to the group’s co-founder, independent film producer Sandrine Brauer, about what needs to change, why she welcomes actor Adèle Haenel’s decision to walk out of the Cesars, but fears a backlash. (Listen @16'20)

The story of the Sakai incident of 1868, involving French sailors, Japanese Samurai and Hara-kiri, told to us by Gary Girod, host of the French History Podcast. (Listen @9'40)


Spotlight on France is a podcast from Radio France International. Find us on iTunes (link here), Google podcasts (link here), or your favourite podcast app.

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