“How could he do that? We gave him our trust.” These poignant words are those of Martine Abitbol. His daughter, former figure skater Sarah Abitbol, claims that her trainer, Gilles Beyer raped her several times when she was a teenager. The documentary Such a long silencebroadcast on France 2 on Wednesday May 11 at 9:10 p.m. and adapted from the book of the same name written by Sarah Abitbol, looks back on these accusations which have upset French sport.
The film, personal and detailed, retraces the journey of the ten times champion of France and bronze medalist at the world championships (2000). Based on archive images and interviews, it looks back on the 5-year-old girl’s first skating on the ice in Nantes, the increasingly intensive training that will lead her to the top level, and his meeting with Gilles Beyer. Lhe feature film then tackles the accusations of the former skater.
While revealing unpublished testimonies, the documentary gives the floor above all to the clan of Sarah Abitbol, including Stéphane Bernadis, her former partner on the ice and in life. However, directors Emmanuelle Anizon and Rémy Burkel also gave the floor to Nathalie Péchalat, president of the French Ice Sports Federation (FFSG), Roxana Maracineanu, Minister Delegate for Sports, Marie-George Buffet, former Minister of Sports, and especially to three former skaters, who also say they have suffered sexual assault.
Speaking still difficult but so useful. There was still a lot of crying.
find my book “UN SI LONG SILENCE” adapted into a documentary Wednesday, May 11 at 9:10 p.m. on France 2! pic.twitter.com/Nkg7b0qUnN
— Sarah ABITBOL (@Abitbol_sarah) May 8, 2022
HAS Many times, the documentary grips the viewer, especially when Sarah Abitbol speaks to talk about Gilles Beyer or when she prefers to read passages from her book in front of the camera rather than recounting her memories again. The film also disturbs when Martine Abitbol admits her regret at not having “see nothing”or even when the ex-trainer of the skater Jean-Christophe Simond recounts, with tears in his eyes, the moment when his student told him what she had been the victim of.
The most poignant testimony remains that of a skater now aged 50, who preferred to remain anonymous. She claims, her voice sometimes trembling, that she was raped several times between the ages of 16 and 18 by Gilles Bayer. “Today I know why it stopped [au bout de deux ans]it’s just because it started with Sarah”, deliver the one who “still can’t talk about it” around her.
Another unpublished document: an interview with Gilles Beyer, shot by Emmanuelle Anizon, during her investigation into the sexual assaults that took place within the FFSG. The journalist pretexts an article on skating and on Sarah Abitbol, then directs the interview towards their coach-trained relationship. Gilles Bayer denies everything and dismisses the journalist.
The publication of the book, then the investigation carried out by the journalist of The Obs Emmanuelle Anizon, pushed the Ministry of Sports to take this subject head on. Roxana Maracineanu, who could not hide her emotion during the documentary, recalls that 700 investigations are currently underway for acts of sexual assault, all sports combined, and are targeting 800 attackers.
The documentary Such a long silence will be followed by a debate led by Julian Bugier (at 10:45 p.m.), then by another unpublished documentary by “Infrarouge”, ice therapy (11:45 p.m.).