Polanski bows out in face of protests

Director to shun César ceremony in Paris

by Richard Mowe

Roman Polanski: "Activists have already threatened me with a public lynching …”
Roman Polanski: "Activists have already threatened me with a public lynching …” Photo: UniFrance

Veteran director Roman Polanski has announced today through the French press agency AFP that he will not attend the Césars ceremony on Friday. His latest film An Officer And A Spy / J’accuse has been nominated for 12 awards.

Various women’s rights groups and others already protested their outrage that Polanski (86) had been nominated, due to past allegations of sexual assault, including one dating back to 1978 for the statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl. The US authorities have never managed to extradite Polanksi to face the charges.

Polanski issued a statement to say “For several days, people have asked me this question: will I or won’t I attend the César ceremony? The question I ask in turn is this: how could I?”

He added: “The way the night will unfold, we already know in advance. Activists have already threatened me with a public lynching. Some have announced protests in front of the Salle Pleyel [where the awards take place]. Others intend to make it a platform to denounce (the) governing body. It promises to look more like a symposium than a celebration of cinema.”

The director suggested he wanted to protect his production team as well as his wife and children. He said “They have been made to suffer injuries and affronts.”

As part of the controversy the Academie des César board resigned on the basis of lack of diversity in the awards and lack of transparency in the organisation. After this year’s awards in Paris on 28 February there will be a general assembly of the César members to elect a new board.

The various anti-Polanski groups had announced that they would stage protests at the ceremony which the French film industry considers as its 'Oscars'.

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