Home Entertainment Cesars 2020: Entire Board of French Oscars Resigns after Roman Polanski Row

Cesars 2020: Entire Board of French Oscars Resigns after Roman Polanski Row

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The entire board of the French Oscars, the César Academy, has resigned following backlash over nominations for a film by Roman Polanski and demands for reform.

Roman Polanski’s An Officer and a Spy swept the nomination list for the César awards, sparking calls for a boycott.

The director has been wanted in the US for the statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl since the 1970s.

Hundreds of actors, producers and directors have also called for change.

In an open letter this week, they denounced “dysfunction” at the César Academy and opacity in its management.

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In a statement on February 13, the César Academy said the board had “unanimously decided to resign” to “honor those men and women who made cinema happen in 2019, to find calm and ensure that the festival of film remains just that, a festival”.

The statement added: “This collective decision will allow complete renewal of the board.”

A general meeting is set to be held after this month’s ceremony to elect a new board, which will look at implementing reforms and modernizing the academy.

France’s Culture Minister Franck Riester said the academy must operate democratically, in the spirit of “openness, transparency, parity and diversity”.

The César Academy has faced controversy in recent months.

Many called for a boycott when Roman Polanski’s film An Officer and a Spy, or J’accuse in French, received 12 award nominations. The director fled the US after his rape conviction in the 1970s, and has since faced other accusations of assault.

France’s equality minister and film critics also condemned the decision to nominate the Polish-French director’s film.

However, the Césars defended the nominations, arguing that the body “should not take moral positions” in giving awards.

In an open letter this week, hundreds of film professionals, including actors and directors, called for “profound reform” at the academy.

They complained of a lack of democracy in the institution and said the founding statutes of the Césars had not changed “for a very long time”.

In response, the board said it would ask for a mediator to be appointed by a culture ministry agency to oversee reforms of its statutes and governance.

It is not the first time the Césars have faced controversy over Roman Polanski. In 2017, the director was picked to head the award’s jury, but stepped down after the move sparked outrage.