Oscar-Winner Michael Haneke: #MeToo ‘Witch Hunt Should Be Left in the Middle Ages’

CANNES, FRANCE - MAY 22: Director Michael Haneke attends the 'Happy End' photocall during the 70th annual Cannes Film Festival on May 22, 2017 in Cannes, France. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Oscar-winning filmmaker Michael Haneke has slammed the ongoing #MeToo movement in a new interview, characterizing the campaign by women who have accused prominent individuals of sexual misconduct as a “witch hunt” that should be “left in the Middle Ages.”

“This new puritanism colored by a hatred of men, arriving on the heels of the #MeToo movement, worries me,” the 75-year-old Amour director said in an interview with the Austrian news outlet Kurier.

“This hysterical pre-judgment which is spreading now, I find absolutely disgusting,” Haneke said, according to a translation by Deadline. “And I don’t want to know how many of these accusations related to incidents 20 or 30 years ago are primarily statements that have little to do with sexual assault.”

German director Michael Haneke attends the “Happy End” press conference during the 70th annual Cannes Film Festival on May 22, 2017 in Cannes, France. (Antony Jones/Getty Images)

Director Michael Haneke poses at the “Amour” Photocall during the 65th Annual Cannes Film Festival at Palais des Festivals on May 20, 2012 in Cannes, France. (Andreas Rentz/Getty Images)

The filmmaker’s comments come as more than 100 prominent individuals in media, entertainment, and politics have been accused of sexual misconduct or abuse by dozens of women in recent months.

The movement was sparked in October after a bombshell New York Times report detailed decades of allegations of serious sexual misconduct against movie mogul Harvey Weinstein.

Haneke said during the interview that he would likely be called a “chauvinist pig” after the publication of his comments, but he continued to criticize the movement.

“Suspected actors are cut out of movies and TV series in order not to lose (audiences). Where are we living? In the new Middle Ages?” Haneke said. He went on to say that “every sexual assault” and all violence perpetrated against both women and men “should be condemned and punished.”

“But the witch hunt should be left in the Middle Ages,” the filmmaker added.

Haneke is not the only prominent figure in entertainment to condemn the #MeToo movement.

In January, actress Catherine Deneuve signed an open letter along with dozens of other women published in French newspaper Le Monde that said the campaign that had begun as a “legitimate protest against sexual violence” had turned into a form of “puritanism” that had gone too far. The letter was met with considerable backlash after its publication.

The same month, French film legend Brigitte Bardot said in an interview that many of the female accusers in the entertainment industry had been “hypocritical” in their campaign.

“Lots of actresses try to play the tease with producers to get a role. And then, so we will talk about them, they say they were harassed,” Bardot said.

Others who have pushed back against the campaign include actor Liam Neeson and filmmaker Woody Allen, both of whom described the ongoing movement as a “witch hunt.”


Follow Daniel Nussbaum on Twitter: @dznussbaum