Petición cerrada

We want the Oscar Academy to condemn violence against women in Film and Bertolucci

Esta petición ha conseguido 126.789 firmas


My name is Sandra, I am a film lover and a woman. Although until today I have not seen, and am not planning to see, The Last Tango in Paris (Bernardo Bertolucci, 1972), I, like thousands of people, know the story of its protagonists. I am talking about Bertolucci as an acclaimed director and Marlon Brando as a renowned actor and sex symbol.

About Maria Schneider, "the girl" in the film, I know little. Mainly that her popularity skyrocketed thanks to this film, and it dropped as intensely afterwards; and that she spent the rest of her life regretting the infamous "butter scene", in which the director and the main male character decided to hide details of her on-screen sodomization until the day of filming. To those who do not know the shocking story, Brando and Bertolucci were both authors and accomplices in an act of supposed eroticism, key in the film, in which Brando's character uses butter as a lubricant before anally raping Schneider's character. As Bertolucci wanted a "realistic" reaction, they surprised the nineteen-year-old girl, with an improvised and not-agreed upon script, and we can see her tears of horrendous surprise in the film. Bertolucci and Brando violated Maria Schneider's rights as an actress, her dignity as a woman and a person, and humiliated and psychologically abused her. Whether she was penetrated or not is almost anecdotal.

 The facts I am referring to should have more consequences than a simple controversy in the world I hope to live in in the 21st century. Not only are these events verified (they have been acknowledged by the actress and the director himself) but Bertolucci has even openly spoken about the topic and admitted to feeling "guilt but not regret", in a TV interview from 2013. In the three years since this shocking declaration, the impact has been close to zero. I myself only found out about this on November 25th 2016, on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women during which the subtitled version of this interview was released. 

Bertolucci is not the first in a long series of "artists" throughout Art History who believe that the end justifies the means and that women are tools in the same way a brush or a camera is. But I strongly believe that having made it to the 21st century and witnessing a very necessary feminist wave, it is time for institutions and the media to take some responsibility for the way we portray and treat women. Art cannot define itself at any cost; it cannot jeopardize people's integrity or women's integrity.

 We often hear about empowerment, rights, equal opportunities and about sentencing gender violence. You, the Academy, have even approved a new measure this year, according to which from now to 2020 the number of female members will be doubled, in order to guarantee impartiality and equal representation of men and women.

 I demand that you, as CEO of the Academy and as a woman, speak up for women whose suffering, like Maria Schneider's, is forgotten. To be consistent and condemn this unjust practice. Maria Schneider suffered from violence in the flesh, in a time when nobody would have supported her testimony; she never took action other than against herself and her own integrity. It is not too late, now that any statute of limitations on these crimes have passed, to nevertheless make a meaningful gesture that corresponds to the renewed and modernized Academy you want to represent.

 I ask you, on the upcoming 89th edition of the Oscar ceremony, to dedicate a special section to taking a stance on violence to women, stating that the Academy cannot support or award such conduct, and that it outright condemns it. I further demand that you release an ethics guide for the film industry, set out from a gender perspective, which you will write with the help of leading organizations for the development of policies for gender equality.


Sandra Sánchez

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