Nobel Prize-winning writer Annie Ernaux has signed an open letter in support of Amber Heard, decrying “the vilification” and “ongoing online harassment” of the actress.
Ernaux won the Nobel Prize in Literature in October 2022 for her work charting the lives of women in France from the 1960s onwards, including abortion drama Happening, which formed the basis for Audrey Diwan’s 2021 Venice Golden Lion winner of the same name.
She is among a group of 68 French feminists and cultural figures to have signed the online letter in an initiative coinciding with the first anniversary of the actress’s defeat last June in a highly-mediatized defamation trial brought by ex-husband Johnny Depp.
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Further signatories included actresses Ariane Labed (Flux Gourmet, The Souvenir) and Zita Hanrot (Angry Annie, The Hookup Plan) as well as actress-director Aïssa Maïga (Above Water, The Girl Who Harnessed The Wind, Cherchez La Femme), screenwriter Caroline Deruas Peano (The Plough) and cinematographer Balthazar Lab (The Pack).
They were also joined by prominent French economist and Green Party politician Sandrine Rousseau, disinformation specialist Stéphanie Lamy and French-American feminist writer and journalist Iris Brey as well as a number of psychologists and sociologists including gender-focused specialist Andreea Gruev-Vintila.
They are the latest signatories of the so-called “An Open Letter In Support of Amber Heard”, spearheaded by gender justice groups in the U.S. such as Women’s March Action, Refuge and Esperanza United.
They launched the letter in November 2022 in the wake of Heard’s defeat in the Virginia-set defamation trial, instigated and won by Depp in response to her 2018 Washington Post op-ed in which she described herself as a “public figure representing domestic abuse”.
The letter does not question the verdict but rather voices concern over the “vilification” and “ongoing online harassment’ of the actress; the way in which the trial became a media circus and the implications of how she was treated for other women and vulnerable parts of society.
“Much of this harassment was fueled by disinformation, misogyny, biphobia, and a monetized social media environment where a woman’s allegations of domestic violence and sexual assault were mocked for entertainment,” reads the letter.
“The same disinformation and victim-blaming tropes are now being used against others who have alleged abuse,” it continues.
A French version of the open letter announcing the new French signatories was published by the weekly French cultural magazine L’Obs to coincide with the first anniversary of the Virginia verdict.
“We decided to expand our letter in support of Amber Heard to France and Europe! It was a joy working on this!,” the U.S.-based group said on the letter’s Instagram page.
The jury unanimously ruled in Depp’s favor on June 1 2022 after a televized trial, which Heard described as humiliating.
Depp, whose career had been ice following the allegations linked to his 15-month marriage to Heard, thanked the jury for giving him his life back and said his goal in going through with the trial had been to reveal the truth.
Heard initially vowed to appeal the decision but eventually settled out of court in December 2022, paying $1 million to Depp, which his lawyers said was given to charity.
A year on, both Depp and Heard appear to be attempting to move on with their lives in the wake of the verdict and settlement.
Depp hit the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival in May as co-star of the opening film Jeanne du Barry, in his biggest public engagement in more than four years as he rebuilds his career in the wake of the 2022 ruling.
Heard has quit Hollywood for the Spanish capital of Madrid with her young daughter in what she has told local media is a permanent move.
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