Roman Polanski’s César win for best director inspired walkouts and protests in France on Friday. France’s equivalent of the Oscars, the César was awarded to Polanski for “J’Accuse” (or “An Officer and a Spy”). The film took home three awards, but was nominated in 12 categories.
Polanski’s win came three days after Harvey Weinstein, the first target of Me Too, was convicted of sex crimes by a jury in New York. Weinstein circulated a petition calling for Polanski’s release from detention back in France in 2009.
Per his own admission, in 1977, a 43-year-old Polanski statutorily raped a girl he knew to be 13 years old. He pleaded guilty to unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor before fleeing the United States. The artist, who received a standing ovation at the 2003 Oscars, was expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2018.
Polanski, the celebrated director of “Chinatown” and “Rosemary’s Baby,” said he relates to “J’Accuse,” a filmed focused on the Dreyfus Affair. “I am familiar with many of the workings of the apparatus of persecution shown in the film… I can see the same determination to deny the facts and condemn me for things I have not done. Most of the people who harass me do not know me and know nothing about the case,” the director contended.
“On the night of the ceremony,” the Los Angeles Times reported, “protesters gathered outside, some with signs bearing slogans such as ‘Shame on an industry that protects rapists.'”
— Ruptly (@Ruptly) February 29, 2020
“Bravo, pedophilia!” Adèle Haenel, star of Portrait of a Lady on Fire, and the film’s director Céline Sciamma walking out after child rapist Roman #Polanski won the best director award at the Césars, #France’s equivalent to the Oscars. h/t @alucarda
— Mona Eltahawy (@monaeltahawy) February 29, 2020
“As tensions grew, French police fired tear gas into the crowd,” the report continued. High-profile attendees walked out of the ceremony.
“Bravo, pedophelia!” actor Adèle Haenel exclaimed in the lobby of the venue where the ceremony was being held.
The film’s nominations “contributed in large parts to the crisis that lead the 21-member board of the org overseeing the Cesar Academy to resign en masse,” Variety reported.