France’s César Academy board quits en masse amid Polanski row

Roman Polanski on stage after the preview of his film in November 2019

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Polanski topped the nominations for this yr’s César awards

The complete board of the César Academy, which distributes France’s equal of the Oscars, has resigned amid a wave of criticism of its nomination for 12 awards for a movie by Roman Polanski.

The choice to honour Polanski’s An Officer and a Spy has angered feminist teams and led to requires a boycott.

The Polish-French director has been needed within the US for the statutory rape of a 13-year-old lady because the 1970s.

Lots of of actors, producers and administrators have additionally referred to as for reform.

In an open letter this week, they denounced “dysfunction” on the César Academy and opacity in its administration.

The César Academy’s choice to step down en masse got here as a shock forward of the glittering 45th awards ceremony in Paris, which is to be held on 28 February.

In an announcement on Thursday evening, the academy mentioned the board had “unanimously determined to resign” to “honour these women and men who made cinema occur in 2019, to seek out calm and be sure that the competition of movie stays simply that, a competition”.

“This collective choice will enable full renewal of the board,” it added.

A normal assembly is about to be held after this month’s ceremony to elect a brand new board, which can have a look at implementing reforms and modernising the establishment.

Tradition Minister Franck Riester mentioned the César Academy should function democratically, within the spirit of “openness, transparency, parity and variety”.

What is the background?

The César Academy has confronted controversy in latest months.

Many referred to as for a boycott when Polanski’s movie An Officer and a Spy, or J’accuse in French, obtained 12 award nominations. The Polish-French director fled the US after his rape conviction within the 1970s, and has since confronted different accusations of sexual assault.

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Media captionSamantha Geimer was raped by Polanski when she was 13

“I’m shocked. The 400 cinema professionals who voted for this nomination have applauded Polanski with 12 nominations – 12 can also be the variety of girls right now who accuse Roman Polanski of rape. This isn’t the sphere of morality, that is the sphere of justice,” Céline Piques, spokeswoman for French feminist organisation Osez le Féminisme (Dare to be Feminist) instructed French TV channel LCI on the time.

France’s equality minister, Marlène Schiappa, additionally condemned the choice to appoint Polanski’s movie.

Whereas praising the academy’s efforts to recognise France’s MeToo motion, Ms Schiappa mentioned she discovered it “not possible {that a} corridor will get up and applauds the movie of a person accused of rape a number of occasions”.

However the Césars defended the nominations, arguing that the physique “mustn’t take ethical positions” in giving awards.

Requires ‘profound reform’

The academy, which numbers 4,700 cinema professionals, has additionally been criticised for being out of contact and dominated by older males. Its president since 2003, Alain Terzian, was fêted for his movies within the 1980s and 90s however he has are available for criticism in latest months.

In an open letter this week, tons of of movie professionals, together with actors and administrators, referred to as for “profound reform” on the academy.

The signatories, who included main figures in French cinema similar to Bertrand Tavernier, Leïla Bekhti and Michel Hazanavicius, complained of an absence of democracy within the establishment and mentioned the founding statutes of the Césars had not modified “for a really very long time”.

In response, the academy’s board mentioned it might ask for a mediator to be appointed by a tradition ministry company to supervise reforms of its statutes and governance.

It isn’t the primary time the Césars have confronted controversy. In 2017, Polanski was picked to move the award’s jury, however stepped down after the transfer sparked outrage.

Regardless of the controversy surrounding the movie, J’accuse was a field workplace hit in France on the finish of 2019 and has performed nicely in a number of different European nations.

Polanski has French and Polish citizenship, and has evaded numerous extradition makes an attempt by US authorities.

France – the place he lives – doesn’t extradite its personal residents. A Polish court docket additionally rejected a US request when he was filming in Krakow in 2015.

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