News The leadership of the 'French Oscars' resigns amidst the...

The leadership of the ‘French Oscars’ resigns amidst the Polanski controversy

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PARIS (Reuters) – The management of the “French Oscars” resigned on Thursday after weeks of controversy surrounding director Roman Polanski, whose latest film “An Officer and a Spy” led the nominations ahead of the 2020 awards ceremony.





© Reuters / Charles Platiau
FILE PHOTO: Film director Roman Polanski comes to the Madeleine Church to attend a ceremony dedicated to the late French singer and actor Johnny Hallyday in Paris

The resignation takes place just two weeks before the Cesar Awards, France’s counterpart to the Oscars, which included 12 nominations for Polanski’s film about Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish French officer who was wrongly accused of spying for Germany in the 1890s.

“To honor those who made films in 2019 to regain serenity and make the cinema festival a celebration, the (Film Academy) board unanimously decided to step down,” said the French Film Academy in a statement.

Feminist groups had rejected the nominations and called for the film to be boycotted. Dozens of people from the film industry – including the “X-Men” actors Omar Sy and Berenice Bejo from the film “The Artist” from 2011 – had denounced the “opacity” of the academy in an open letter.

Related Slideshow: Messages in Pictures (provided by Photo Services)

Polanski launched his new film in France last year, just a few days after a French actress accused him of raping her during a ski vacation in Gstaad, Switzerland, in 1975, when she was 18 years old.

The now 86-year-old Polanski has rejected the allegation.

The French-Polish director fled the United States after pleading guilty in 1977 to having had illegal sex with a 13-year-old girl in Los Angeles.

The allegations against Polanski stemmed from the sexual harassment scandal that engulfed Hollywood film producer Harvey Weinstein in 2017. Polanski’s story, however, was re-examined as the #MeToo movement against sexual abuse and harassment increased in response to allegations of Weinstein, who is on trial for rape, and sexual assault in New York.

Polanski was excluded from the Academy of Arts and Sciences for feature films in 2018.

(Reporting by Michel Rose; editor by Jonathan Oatis)

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