There were bound to be some pin-drop moments during tonight’s César Awards, but for the most part things ran smoothly until Roman Polanski was named Best Director for his Dreyfus Affair drama, An Officer And A Spy, late into the evening. The film had already taken Best Costumes and Best Adapted Screenplay, yet when it was announced that Polanski was named Best Director, walkouts followed.
Most notable was actress Adèle Haenel (herself nominated in the lead category for Portrait Of A Lady On Fire) who recently accused another director of sexually abusing her from age 12. Each of the three times that Polanski’s Venice Grand Jury Prize winner was awarded a César tonight, there was discomfort in the room.
The entirety of the evening was punctuated with nods at both Polanski and the current state of France’s film academy whose board is resigning amid criticism from the voting body.
Comedic actress Florence Foresti, the host of the ceremony, kicked off the show with a pretaped Joker-themed bit which included her objectifying a young male dancer. She went on to say, “There are 12 moments where we’re going to have an issue tonight” presumably referencing An Officer And A Spy‘s 12 nominations.
The Césars were facing difficult odds this year given the controversy swirling around. And while Foresti did a solid job of running the proceedings, it is entirely welcome that the overseeing board has resigned with a move to overhaul the org ahead.
The groups that had earlier protested the ceremony also weighed in: