France’s most prestigious film awards, the Césars, are facing criticism from a feminist group after Roman Polanksi’s latest film topped the list of nominations.
The acclaimed “Chinatown” director’s newest project, “An Officer And A Spy”, is a biopic of French-Jewish army officer Alfred Dreyfus who was wrongfully convicted of treason and sentenced to death in 1894. The film, which features French stars Jean Dujardin, Mathieu Amalric, and Louis Garrel, earned 12 César nominations, including for Best Film, Best Director, and Best Actor for Dujardin. A major box office and critical hit in France, the film previously won multiple awards at the Venice Film Festival, including the Grand Jury Prize, which was awarded to Polanski.
The Polish-born director fled to France in 1978 after admitting to the charge of “unlawful sex with a minor” in California when he was 43. Polanski, now 86, has remained a fugitive and avoided extradition and U.S. soil ever since.
After the nominations were announced on Wednesday, French feminist group Osez Le Féminisme say the recognition for Polanski is the equivalent of “silencing victims,” illustrating that France is out of touch with the #MeToo movement.
According to a translation from the Guardian, the group tweeted: “Have we learned nothing from #MeToo? When in the US, [Harvey] Weinstein is risking life in prison, when in France Adèle Haenel breaks the omerta on the impunity of rapists in cultural life, the Césars acclaim a child abuser and rapist on the run?”
The tweet references “Portrait Of A Lady On Fire” star Adèle Haenel, who accused French director Christophe Ruggia of sexually harassing and assaulting her on the set of her first film when she was 12. Ruggia was charged with sexual assault on a minor in early January; he denies the allegations by Haenel.
In response to the group, French film academy head Alain Terzian dismissed the criticism against the controversial director and argued that the film academy “should not take moral positions” when it comes to recognizing artistic merit.
“An Officer And A Spy” received no Oscar nominations. “Les Miserables” was chosen as France’s submission to the Best International Film category, clinching an Oscar nomination. “Les Miserables” received 11 César nominations. Polanski previously won an Academy Award for Best Director in 2003 for “The Pianist” with his “Frantic” star Harrison Ford accepting the honour on behalf of the absent director. Polanski has since been expelled from the Academy.