Shaken by an unprecedented crisis, the Cesars appointed, on Wednesday, the producer Margaret Menegoz as interim president. Friday’s ceremony promises to be tense due to strong protests against the 12 nominations for Roman Polanski’s “J’accuse”.
At the end of a board of directors, the Cesars appointed, on Wednesday, February 26, the producer Margaret Menegoz president of the Association for the promotion of cinema (APC), which governs the Academie des Cesar, to replace the resigned Alain Terzian.
This appointment comes, while the Caesars are shaken by an unprecedented crisis. Friday will be the 45th ceremony, against the backdrop of strong protests against the 12 nominations of Roman Polanski’s “J’accuse”.
A temporary solution
Already secretary-general of the APC and member of its board of directors, Margaret Menegoz, 78, runs the company Les Films du Losange, who have produced films by Eric Rohmer, Michael Haneke or Andrzej Wajda.
APC members will then meet on April 20 for an extraordinary general meeting, during which new statutes will be adopted, the draft of which will be developed by the National Cinema Center (CNC), in consultation with professionals. These statutes should allow in particular the enlargement of the number of members of the association – which currently has 47, including 21 administrators – and the diversification of their recruitment.
A second general assembly, with the new members, will be convened this summer. It will elect a new board of directors, this time in charge of reforming the electoral college of the Cesars, today made up of 4,700 film professionals (35% of whom are women).
Choppy Caesars insight
The Caesars have been weakened for several weeks by a violent crisis, which led in mid-February to the collective resignation of the management of the Academy, accused of opacity and of themselves. The turbulence had intensified when more than 400 film personalities including Omar Sy, Jacques Audiard or Celine Sciamma, had signed in February a platform demanding a “deep reform”, precipitating the fall of the board of directors.
Marking the beginning of a new era, Margaret Menegoz will be at the helm, on Friday, for the high mass of French cinema, while the Cesars promise to be heckled also by feminists, determined to protest against the 12 nominations of “J ‘accused”.
Arriving at the head of the first ballot with the film of Ladj Ly on the suburbs “Les Miserables” (a big favorite with 12 nominations too, including that of the public prize), Roman Polanski’s film on the Dreyfus Affair will be on front and center for these annual awards. He is also closely followed by “La Belle Epoque” by Nicolas Bedos (eleven nominations) and “Portrait of the young girl on fire” by Celine Sciamma (ten).
But, outraged, several feminist associations, which no longer accept as a part of public opinion that the Franco-Polish filmmaker receives honors – while he has been targeted since November by a new accusation of rape and still being prosecuted by the American justice -, called to demonstrate Friday at 6 p.m. in front of the Salle Pleyel, where the ceremony will be held from 9 p.m.
The feminist collective #NousToutes announced in particular that it would organize a happening during which it would award filmmakers “other prizes – less glorious -, so that the curtain rises on the protection that the world of arts and cinema”.
Uncertainty still reigns over the presence of Roman Polanski at the ceremony. Press reports said he was coming on Wednesday, but the filmmaker’s entourage said he had not yet made up his mind.
A few days after the conviction of ex-Hollywood tycoon Harvey Weinstein – convicted on Monday of sexual assault and rape – an important step for the #MeToo movement, this Polanski controversy stains.
Driving the point home, actress Adele Haenel, who created an earthquake in French cinema in November by accusing director Christophe Ruggia of “repeated touching” when she was a teenager, said in an interview with The New York Times on Monday that France had “completely missed the check” of #MeToo.
The 31-year-old actress, vying for the Cesar award for best actress for “Portrait of the girl on fire”, warned: “to distinguish Polanski is to spit in the faces of all the victims. It means’ raping women is okay “.