Sofiane Bennacer, the French actor who stars in Valeria Bruni Tedeschi’s Cannes competition title “Forever Young” (“Les Amandiers”), has been indicted on multiple charges of rape and violence.
Bennacer was part of the 32 emerging actors shortlisted for best newcomer at the Cesar Awards, France’s equivalent to the Oscars, which will be held in March. But in the wake of the indictment, the Cesar Academy pulled Bennacer out of the nominations process.
The Cesar Academy had previously said it would temporarily withdraw his name from the shortlist during the judicial process, but they decided on Friday that he will no longer be a part of it.
Four complaints have been filed against Bennacer. Three former girlfriends are accusing him of rape, and a third of violence. Out of these complaints, three formal investigations have been launched.
Bennacer took to social media to claim his innocence. “Does the presumption of innocence still exist? Or can a baseless accusation destroy a life?” the actor wrote on his Instagram account.
“I will probably be boycotted from the film industry. In any case I’ve been humiliated to the depths of my soul,” he continued.
Liberation newspaper published a bombshell investigation earlier this week in which multiple people working on the production of “Forever Young” said the accusations against Bennacer were known and accused Bruni Tedeschi and the film’s producers of protecting him.
Bruni Tedeschi on Friday responded to the newspaper’s investigation, blaming the French media for failing to respect the presumption of innocence. The director admitted she was aware of rumors surrounding the accusations ahead of the shoot, but chose to give Bennacer the part anyway.
“My producers expressed concern and caution but I indicated to them that these rumors would not stop me and that I couldn’t envision making this film without him,” said Bruni Tedeschi in a statement published in several local outlets.
As part of the judicial review, Bennacer is banned from being in and around Paris, as well as Strasbourg and Mulhouse.
“Forever Young” is currently playing in theaters in France. The movie was critically acclaimed at Cannes and was acquired by distributors around the world. Bennacer plays one of the leading roles, along with Nadia Tereszkiewicz and Louis Garrel, among others.
The film opens at the end of the 1980s in Paris and follows a young troupe of comedians who have just have been admitted to Les Amandiers, the prestigious theater school headed by Patrice Chéreau.