The “collective resignation” of the management team behind the Cesars Awards has been announced just two weeks before the ceremony, following protests over elitism and nominations given to statutory rapist Roman Polanski.
In explaining their leaving the Cesars only 15 days before the actual ceremony, the board managing the prizes for the French Academy of Arts and Technology of Cinema explained they are walking away to “honor those who made cinema in 2019, to regain serenity and make the cinema festival a celebration.”
A complete renewal of management is planned. The management change does not appear to have affected the previously announced nominations.
The overhaul of leadership follows the controversy surrounding the Cesars lavishing 12 award nominations on J’accuse (also known as An Officer and a Spy) — the latest film from 86-year-old Roman Polanski, a celebrated director who has been wanted in the US for decades for the rape of a 13-year-old girl.
Polanski has also been accused by over a dozen women of sexual misconduct — some dating back years — recently, as the result of the MeToo movement. Polanski has denies the claims and argued that some of them were promoted by MeToo villain Harvey Weinstein.
An open letter from multiple feminist groups to the press called out the Cesars for their recognition of Polanski’s work. The groups collectively compared Polanski to Weinstein, an influential Hollywood film producer currently on trial for rape in the US, and said the Academy was offering its “unconditional support to a fugitive rapist.”
In addition to the drama over Polanski, another conflict was shaking the Cesars. A recent column signed by hundreds of film professionals also called for “in-depth” reform in the Cesar ranks because “elitist and closed functioning” has prevented diversity.
French culture at first appeared more apprehensive of the MeToo movement than the United States. In 2018, French actress Catherine Deneuve and 99 other prominent women signed a public letter condemning the hysterics of #MeToo, saying it “takes on a hatred of men and sexuality.”
Polanski continued to work and face only minimal protests in Europe, while major Hollywood celebrities like Kevin Spacey, Weinstein, directors Bryan Singer, Brett Ratner, and many others found themselves pariahs within their own industries, fired from nearly complete projects like House of Cards and Bohemian Rhapsody and, at times, facing criminal charges, irrespective of whether the accusations found any confirmation or were later dropped.
A general assembly will occur following the Cesar ceremony on February 28 where “modernized measures” will be discussed to improve the promotion of cinema.
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