- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 11, 2018

One of the world’s leading art-house film directors poured scorn on the “#MeToo” movement as “disgusting” and a “malignancy” that will return the world to the Middle Ages.

Austrian director Michael Haneke, whose movies have won both the Cannes Film Festival and the Oscar for best foreign film, called the movement in an interview “prejudice hysteria” that makes it “all the more difficult to deal with this very important topic” of real sexual abuse.

“This new, man-hating Puritanism, coming in the wake of the #Metoo movement, worries me,” he said, adding that some of the most important films about sex, such as “In the Realm of the Senses” could not be made today.

“Where do we live? In a new Middle Ages?” he asked, saying that “the witch hunt should be left in the Middle Ages.”

He specifically criticized the #MeToo movement both for its tendency to dredge up old behavior, when mores were different and memories faded and witnesses absent, and the effect it has on film-makers becoming afraid to cast certain actors — even when the film is finished as happened with “All The Money in the World” and Kevin Spacey.

“I do not want to know how many of these charges related to incidents 20 or 30 years ago are primarily statements that have little to do with sexual assault,” he said.

“Suspected actors” are cut out of movies and series “in order to not lose any viewer numbers,” Mr. Haneke said.

Mr. Haneke’s movies are known for their stern moralism, their formal control, and their scalding portraits of modern society. He won the top prize at Cannes twice — one of the few film film-makers so honored at the world’s most prestigious juried festival — with “White Ribbon” and “Amour.”

The latter film also won the Academy Award for best foreign-language film and nabbed him the rare honor, for a film in a foreign language, of a Best Director Oscar nomination.

Mr. Haneke is also known for a dry sense of humor, which he displayed in this interview, with the Austrian daily newspaper Kurier.

“I can imagine what you can read on the net after this interview,” he finished. “Haneke, the male chauvinist pig.”

• Victor Morton can be reached at vmorton@washingtontimes.com.

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