French Oscars academy board resigns after Polanksi row

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PARIS, Feb 14, 2020 (BSS/AFP) – The entire board of the Cesar Academy,
which awards France’s equivalent of the Oscars, resigned Thursday just two
weeks ahead of its gala ceremony after more than 200 actors, producers,
directors and movie personalities demanded “profound reform”.

The academy had come under fire after Roman Polanski’s new film “An Officer
and a Spy” topped the list of nominations for this year’s Cesar awards, which
will be handed out on February 28.

Polanski has been wanted in the US for the statutory rape of a 13-year-old
girl since 1978 and is persona non grata in Hollywood.

“To honour 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
board… has unanimously decided to resign,” the academy said in a statement.

“This collective decision will allow complete renewal of the board,” it
added.

A general meeting will be held after the upcoming awards ceremony to elect
a new board and management who will work on implementing reforms and
modernisation, it said.

More than 200 actors, producers, directors and movie personalities
denounced the “dysfunction” at the academy and “opaqueness” in its accounts,
in an open letter on Wednesday.

They also complained that the founding statutes of the Cesars had not
changed in a long time and that the academy’s nearly 5,000 members do not get
a vote or a say in its decisions.

The academy’s board in response said it would ask the National Centre for
Cinema, a culture ministry agency, to appoint a mediator to oversee “deep
reform” of its statutes and governance.

The academy had previously announced measures to boost female
representation in its membership and representation.

The inclusion of Polanski’s film on the Cesars’ shortlist was condemned by
France’s equality minister, women’s groups and film critics, but the Cesar
Academy said it could not be expected to take “moral positions” when
evaluating films.

A number of French feminist groups have urged Cesar voters to snub
Polanski’s film, titled “J’accuse” in France, and called for a protest
outside the award ceremony, which is to be held in Paris’s Salle Pleyel
auditorium.

“When we mobilise, things happen!”, feminist collective Nous Toutes (All Of
Us) wrote on Twitter.

Another group, Osez Le Feminisme (Dare Feminism), said: “Imagine what’s
next. A new voting panel without male self-confidence, opacity and sexism.
Will we finally stop applauding rapists and paedophiles on the run?”

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