The USA has the Oscars, Britain has the BAFTAs, and France has the Cesar Awards. France’s answer to the Academy was already in hot water this year with the decision to award twelve nominations to An Officer And A Spy. Why? Because the movie was directed by Roman Polanski.
Polanksi, as the majority of the movie going world knows, may be a talented filmmaker but there is a cloud over him. In 1977, Polanski was arrested and charged with drugging and raping a 13-year-old girl. He subsequently pled guilty to the lesser offence of unlawful sex with a minor.
After spending 42 days undergoing psychiatric evaluation in prison in preparation for sentencing, Polanski, who had expected to be put on probation, fled from the USA to Paris after learning that the judge planned to reject his plea deal and impose a prison term.
This didn’t stop Hollywood feting him, awarding him and A-list actors falling over themselves to work with him. For some reason his status as a fugitive seems to have added to his cachet among Hollywood plastic Liberal types who potentially view his fleeing as some kind of romantic fugitive notion, sticking it to “The Man”.
When the Harvey Weinstein revelations triggered the #metoo movement Hollywood was forced to awkwardly examine itself. Images of insincere luvvie actors clapping wildly at Polanski, heads tilted in that stage managed, acting method of showing concern, being awarded Oscars and deciding to ignore or belittle the charges against him in order to keep working were really not a good look.
Following the nominations the entire team who worked on the Polanski film declined to attend the awards so as not to become embroiled in a controversy.
This was not enough. The venue was surrounded by several hundred women’s rights protesters on Friday night.
The French police, as we know from the Yellow Vest protests since the summer, are not shy about wading in and this appeared to happen again.
Inside it was no better. When Polanski was awarded the Best Director prize inside, several female attendees immediately left the ceremony.
The entire Cesar Academy board of directors had already announced they were resigning and stepping down a month ago but that did not take effect until this week.