French Feminist Groups Call On César Voters Not To Reward Roman Polanski, Vow Protest At Prize Ceremony


A group of nine feminist associations has called upon voting members of France’s Académie des Arts et Techniques du Cinéma not to mark their César Awards ballots for Roman Polanski’s An Officer And A Spy. The Dreyfus Affair drama has a leading 12 nominations for the prizes which will be handed out on February 28 in Paris.

Such orgs as Osez le Feminisme, the Feminist Collective Against Rape, the International Association of Victims of Incest and Tolerance Zero signed an open letter published in daily Le Parisien on Wednesday titled, “If Rape Is An Art, Give Polanski All The Césars.” (Read it here, in French)

The groups vowed to protest the César ceremony in order to “say no to the celebration of a rapist who silences his victims.” Polanski has for decades lived in France after fleeing the United States on the eve of final sentencing in a statutory rape case. He has continued to make films here, but in the #MeToo era, and amid a more recent allegation (which he has denied), he has become an increasingly controversial figure.

With the 12 nominations for An Officer And A Spy (which won the Grand Jury Prize in Venice last year), the world of cinema “has given its frank and unconditional support” to “a rapist on the run,” the groups write.

The open letter comes as the French Academy is under fire from its own membership for a lack of transparency and what they call an “elitist and closed” system in whose operations they have “no voice.” The Academy on Tuesday vowed it would conduct a far-reaching reform of its statutes and governance.

It also called for calm surrounding the César ceremony, though that is clearly not going to be the case. To the voting members, the women’s groups say, “In 2020, do not give reason to a sexist Césars Academy that still renders women invisible for the benefit of their aggressors.”

The second round of César voting closes on February 25.

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