Jean Dujardin as Colonel Picquart and Louis Garrel as Albert Dreyfus in An Officer And A Spy Photo: Unifrance
The board had lost the confidence of its members including 400 producers, directors, actors and other film professionals who published an open letter demanding that the César Academy, which runs the awards, reform “the opaqueness of its processes and its dysfunction".
Roman Polanski: 'My work is not therapy. However, I must admit that I am familiar with many of the workings of the apparatus of persecution shown in the film, and that has clearly inspired me' Photo: Unifrance
Veteran producer Alain Terzian who is head of the Academy, argued that the organisation “should not take moral positions on giving awards.” Those who oppose Polanski’s inclusion have called for a protest on the night outside the Salle Pleyel auditorium.
The Academy has pledged that a general meeting would be held shortly after this year’s ceremony to let a new board and management with a view to addressing concerns of members. One significant point of contention is the fact that only 35 per cent of its 5000 membership are women.
Among those who signed the opened letter are directors Jacques Audiard, Michel Hazanavicius, Cédric Klapisch, Claire Denis, and Bertrand Tavernier, as well as actors Bérénice Béjo, Chiara Mastroianni, Ludivine Sagnier, Karin Viard, Omar Sy and Roschdy Zem.
When asked if this film was like a catharsis for him Polanski - referencing the murder of his wife Sharon Tate by members of the Manson family - replied: "No, I don’t work like that. My work is not therapy. However, I must admit that I am familiar with many of the workings of the apparatus of persecution shown in the film, and that has clearly inspired me. The way people see me, my 'image', did indeed start to form with Sharon Tate’s death.
"When it happened, even though I was already going through a terrible time, the press got hold of the tragedy and, unsure of how to deal with it, covered it in the most despicable way, implying, among other things, that I was one of the people responsible for her murder, against a background of satanism. For them, my film Rosemary’s Baby, proved that I was in league with the devil! It lasted several months, until the police finally found the real killers, Charles Manson and his “family”.
French poster for An Officer And A Spy Photo: Gaumont
Polanski began filming An Officer And A Spy in November 2018. On his choice of Oscar-wining Jean Dujardin (The Artist) he said: "Jean seemed perfect for the role of Picquart. He looks like Picquart, he’s the same age and he’s a great actor. A film of this importance needs a star and Jean Dujardin is one – he didn’t get an Oscar for nothing. So he was a natural choice for us, we just had to see whether he was interested in the project. In fact, he was eager to do it."
- Edinburgh arts hub Summerhall hosts a pre-César focus on Sunday 23 February with a screening of a surprise winner from last year, Guy by Alex Lutz. Clips from this year’s Best Film contenders will be screened including An Officer And A Spy, with a behind-the-scenes introduction by ex-Hollywood Reporter correspondent in Paris Shiraz Sidhva.