French César Awards ban anyone accused of a sex crime from attending 2023 ceremony

By Alma Fabiani

Published Jan 4, 2023 at 11:44 AM

Reading time: 1 minute

Back in 2020, during the 45th César Awards (France’s equivalent to the Oscars) famous—and highly controversial—movie director Roman Polanski won the César for best director for his movie An Officer and a Spy. This contested honour resulted in a number of film industry nominees and recipients leaving the room in protest and, subsequently, riots in Paris.

The fact that Polanski—who was accused of drugging and raping a 13-year-old girl in 1977, pleaded guilty to the ‘lesser offence’ of unlawful sex with a minor in 1978 only to then flee from his US sentencing—was recognised despite this was outright proof that sexual predators were still tolerated (if not rewarded) in the country’s respected film industry.

In 2023 however, it seems like things are about to change for the better as it’s just been announced that actors, directors, producers and any artists who have been charged or convicted of sex crimes will not be allowed to take the stand at the show, which is set to take place on 25 February.

Unfortunately, they are still eligible for awards, but if they do win, “no one will be allowed to speak on their behalf,” a statement from the César Academy read.

This decision comes shortly after the French news media revealed that Sofiane Bennacer, who was considered a favourite for a César for his lead role in the movie Forever Young, was under police investigation on rape charges and that rumours about the accusations had circulated in the film industry for months.

The César Academy was sharply criticised for seemingly ignoring the allegations and thus eventually dropped Bennacer from the list after it emerged publicly that the actor had been indicted.

Over the years, the French film industry has been notoriously slow for addressing matters of sexual assault and demands from the #MeToo movement. Polanski and Bennacer are only the tip of the iceberg as countless accusations remain unsolved.

Among the major names who are still under police investigation are actor Gérard Depardieu, who has been accused of rape and sexual assault, and Dominique Boutonnat, a producer whom the French government reappointed in July 2022 as President of the National Centre for Cinema and the Moving Image despite allegations that he had sexually assaulted his godson.

It’s clear that much still needs to be done. Why not start by banning all sexual offenders from both attendance and nominations?

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