Marco Werman: I'm Marco Werman. This is "The World". No matter where you are, if you're a woman you've most likely encountered harassment in one form or another, whether it's a comment from a man in the street or in the worst cases outright sexual assault. Not many men know how that feels. The gender roles are reversed though in French filmmaker ElÃ©onore Pourriat's "Oppressed Majority". The short film packs a punch. It portrays a man named Pierre going about his day in a society where it's the women who dominate.
ElÃ©onore Pourriat: I wanted to begin the film with just slight remarks, things that aren't usually noticed by people and by men actually, and it's getting worse and worse and it goes from laughter at the beginning to a kind of fright at the end.
Werman: Right. With the police woman to whom the man who has been assaulted is giving the report, she almost doubts him and this is something I gather that a fair number of women go through when they report sexual assault.
Pourriat: Yes. Actually I don't think it's usual cop behavior, but I wanted to have in the film behavior of doubt towards this experience the man, woman, has in the film.
Werman: ElÃ©onore, what pushed you to make a film that flips everyday sexism on its head with women doing the harassing of men? What started this?
Pourriat: Actually I didn't want to make a militant film which would be like a moral lesson telling you guys with no humor, I thought it wouldn't reach it's point. So I always think that humor is a good way to make people understand what you feel, as an artist I mean. So that's why I imagined the swap genre because first it's funny. Yes, people laugh when they see a topless jogger, for example, in the street, and the film begins with a topless jogger and it's very funny because it's unusual and that's the point. Because things are surprising, then we notice them.
Werman: How big a problem is sexual harassment in France?
Pourriat: Actually I don't have numbers, but the problem is more that sexism is like a deep inside mentality and it pervades everywhere. OK, there's sexual harassment, but there's sexism everywhere, in every level of society, and the problem is that women are considered as a minority. That's the absurd thing.
Werman: In France?
Pourriat: In France and everywhere, everywhere in the world.
Werman: You made this film five years ago and it's only now that it's getting lots of views on YouTube. Why did it suddenly go viral?
Pourriat: Actually yes, I made the film in 2010 and it was selected in a few festivals and it won a few awards. It was bought by a French TV, so I couldn't post it on YouTube the first two years. And then I decided to post it because there weren't many festivals or channels interested in a feminist militant film, so I decided to let people make their own opinion, and I posted it last year and nothing really happened, a hundred views, something like that. And last January, it just, I don't know what happened, and the burst began in France and then I posted the subtitled version and, wow, it went crazy.
Werman: ElÃ©onore, before I let you go I just wanted to ask you about the end of your film "Oppressed Majority". Just before the credits roll, you dedicate the short film to a certain "AurÃ©lie B". Who is she?
Pourriat: AurÃ©lie is, was the daughter of very good friends of mine and she got killed by her boyfriend who thought she was his, she was his property. So it was important for me to dedicate this film to this girl who died because of violence and sexism.
Werman: So there's a very personal kind of underpinning to your making this film? Is that what prompted you in the first place? That event?
Pourriat: No, not that event because it occurred just before I shot the film, but actually the reason is my everyday life as a woman in France, my witnessing this experience.
Werman: French filmmaker ElÃ©onore Pourriat. Thanks very much for taking the time to speak with us today. Appreciate it.
Pourriat: Thank you so much.
Werman: If you haven't yet seen what all the fuss is about, we've posted ElÃ©onore's film. And beware, it includes some graphic scenes. It's at PRI.org.