As American citizens protest Donald Trump becoming the 45th president of the United States, over in France, women’s groups are calling out the César Awards after it was announced that Roman Polanski would preside over this year’s ceremony.
The Académie des Arts et Techniques du Cinéma, which organizes the event, stated that the controversial filmmaker had been nominated to be president of the César ceremony.
“Artist, filmmaker, producer, screenwriter, actor, director – there are many words to define Roman Polanski,” the Académie said, per The Guardian. “But there is only one to express our admiration and enchantment: thank you, Mr President.”
Winner of four Best Director César awards, the filmmaker is best known for his films “The Pianist,” “Chinatown,” “Tess” and “The Ghost Writer.” In 1977 he was convicted of raping a 13-year-old girl in Los Angeles. After pleading guilty, agreeing on a settlement and serving 42 days in prison, he then fled the US for Europe before he was sentenced. Last month, Poland’s supreme court rejected an extradition request for Polanski from the US.
Among those protesting is Laurence Rossignol, France’s minister for families, children and women’s rights, who, per The New York Times, said that his appointing was “shocking and surprising.” Adding, “I’m afraid this only reveals, on the part of those who appointed him, a form of indifference towards something that remains very serious today, and that we are, incidentally, still fighting.”
Osez le féminisme, a leading French feminist organization, also spoke out saying, “Regardless of the quality of Mr. Polanski’s films, we can’t remain silent about the fact that 40 years ago he escaped American justice,” the group’s spokeswoman, Claire Serre-Combe, told Agence France-Presse. “We cannot let this pass. Making Polanski president is a snub to rape and sexual assault victims. The quality of his work counts for nothing when confronted with the crime he committed, his escape from justice and his refusal to face up to his responsibilities.”
Though, Aurélie Filippetti, the former French culture minister, defended the decision by telling Franco Info radio that the “Rosemary’s Baby” helmer is a “great director.”
“It’s something that happened 40 years ago. One cannot bring up this affair every time we talk about him because there was a problem back then. It is just an awards ceremony.”
The nominees for the 2017 César Awards will be announced on Wednesday, January 25. The ceremony will take place on February 24.