As if this year’s César Awards couldn’t be more controversial. Following the French Film Academy‘s polarizing choice to give Roman Polanski not one, but 12 nominations for his controversial film “An Officer And A Spy,” the embattled filmmaker and convicted child rapist was awarded the Best Director prize on Friday. Immediately after, several female attendees left the ceremony in disgust and protest, including “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” actress Adèle Haenel and director Céline Sciamma.
Trying to avoid an embarrassing public censure or worse, it previously reported that Polanski — who is still a wanted criminal in the United States after he was charged and convicted of the statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl in 1977 before he fled the country — as well as the entire “An Officer and a Spy” film’s team decided to boycott the César Awards and not attend the ceremony. Recently, Haenel criticized Polanki’s nomination by the French Film Academy, saying “Distinguishing Polanski is spitting in the face of all victims. It means raping women isn’t that bad.” Haenel has also been an active voice in the #MeToo movement as she has recently come out to speak about being sexually abused by French director Christophe Ruggia when she was 12.
After storming out of the auditorium shouting the word “shame,” Haenel was heard leaving the venue clapping sarcastically and shouting “Bravo, pedophilia, bravo.” Outside the venue, women’s rights activists were protesting, with a few hundred protesters brandishing signs criticizing the ceremony and proclaiming “victims, we believe you.” Due in large part due to the “Polanski problem,” the entire largely-male César Academy board of directors announced their collective resignation earlier this month, but it would not take place until after last night’s ceremony.
Despite Polanski’s conviction and his expulsion from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and yet another accusation of rape by French actress Valentine Monnier in the fall of 2019, Polanski is still well regarded in France, as “An Officer And a Spy” had already won awards at the Venice Film Festival last year.