A few hundred demonstrators protested Friday evening against the twelve nominations of the film “J’accuse” by Roman Polanski, targeted by a new rape accusation, before a ceremony of the Caesar under high tension.
Around 7:30 p.m., less than two hours before the start of the ceremony, demonstrators with smoke bombs attempted to approach the Salle Pleyel, where the evening was being held, protected by the police and metal barriers, shouting “Lock up Polanski”. Protesters trying to break down barriers were repelled by the police.
“We want to challenge the cinema community which can support (the actress) Adele Haenel, who denounces the facts of sexual assault and, at the same time, with incredible hypocrisy, supports Roman Polanski”, explained at the beginning of the rally Celine Piques, spokesperson for Dare feminism to an AFP journalist.
Roman Polanski and the team for his film “J’accuse”, including actor Jean Dujardin who plays the main role, decided not to attend the Cesar ceremony while his feature film on the Dreyfus Affair has collected twelve nominations.
This historic thriller on the Dreyfus Affair is one of the favorites, alongside notably the film by Ladj Ly, “Les Miserables” (also 12 nominations), about a police blunder in a popular district of Seine-Saint-Denis, and “Portrait of the young girl on fire “by Celine Sciamma, who has ten.
“In making this film, I believed and I still believe, to have done more good than evil,” commented Jean Dujardin on Friday evening on Instagram.
– “responsibility” –
The special place given to Roman Polanski is however considered unacceptable by feminists and a part of the public opinion, whereas he has been targeted since November by a new accusation of rape.
The 86-year-old French-Polish director is also still being sued by the American justice system for illegal sexual relations with a minor in 1977.
“I think it is important that we are there. We are a little tense I would say anyway, and happy to be able to represent our cinema and our ideas,” said actress Adele Haenel, nominated for the Cesar of the best actress and symbol of a new impetus of #MeToo in France since she accused director Christophe Ruggia in November of “repeated touching” when she was a teenager.
“This ceremony is special. We do not have the comfort of ignoring the context, and therefore we are responsible in relation to this context,” said Celine Sciamma, very involved in the 50/50 collective for parity in the cinema.
She could create a historic moment by winning the Cesar for best achievement, which was won only once by a woman, Tonie Marshall for “Venus Beauty (Institute)”, twenty years ago.
– “Regrets” by Costa Gavras –
Director Costa Gavras regretted that “Roman Polanski and the film crew are not there”. “The nominations for the film have been decided democratically,” he said, adding that “we must distinguish between man and work”.
Friday morning, the Minister of Culture Franck Riester declared that a Cesar of best director for Polanski would be “a bad symbol compared to the necessary awareness that we must all have in the fight against sexual and gender-based violence”. Statements that did not please the producer of the film Alain Goldman, deploring “an escalation of inappropriate and violent comments and behavior”.
This evening should also be that of the beginning of a renaissance for the institution of the Cesars, shaken by a serious operational crisis.
A wind of revolt, emanating from film personalities, has been blowing since mid-January to criticize the opacity, the lack of democracy, diversity, and parity of the leadership of the Academy of Caesar.
This sling had led, in mid-February, to the resignation en bloc of its board of directors, chaired since 2003 by Alain Terzian.
An interim president, Margaret Menegoz, was already appointed on Wednesday, and an extraordinary general meeting will be held on April 20 to adopt new statutes.