Entire Board of French Film Awards Resigns After Giving Roman Polanski Film 12 Nominations

Illustration for article titled Entire Board of French Film Awards Resigns After Giving Roman Polanski Film 12 Nominations
Photo: Adam Nurkiewicz / Stringer

On Thursday, the board that is responsible for overseeing the César Awards (the French equivalent to the Oscars) announced that every single one of the 21 board members would be jointly resigning after the upcoming awards. While this decision might seem shocking, it comes after significant controversy surrounding the César Academy board’s practices—and the decision to give Roman Polanski’s latest film a whopping 12 César nominations.


This is not the first time the César Academy’s willingness to support Roman Polanski, a convicted child rapist who is somehow still permitted to direct films (??) and even receives awards for those films (?????????), has been a source of controversy. In 2017, after the announcement that Polanski would be presiding over the awards (truly what the fuck) led to French women’s groups calling for a boycott, the director ended up stepping down from that role.

The controversy over the choice to reward Polanski’s work despite the numerous allegations of assault against him is reflective of a deeper issue with the César Academy’s practices. Although the César Awards are often compared to the Oscars and the BAFTAs, there’s one primary difference—their members do not get to vote for their leadership. In the eyes of many members of the French film community, the decisions of this unelected board reflect a growing disparity between the Academy and the country’s broader filmmaking community. The César Academy board has also received criticism for its lack of transparency and a general lack of inclusivity, most recently after excluding two prominent feminist filmmakers from a gala ahead of the ceremony.

On Tuesday, an open calling for a “complete overhaul” of the organization, signed by over 400 prominent figures in the French film industry, was published in a French newspaper. Reportedly, the letter said that the time “had come for the democratization of the 45-year-old organization, which is run by the unelected, charitable Association for the Promotion of Cinema (APC) which appoints the board of directors.”

Although anyone will tell you that even the “democratization” of the voting process for awards like these far from guarantees inclusivity—this year, the BAFTAs literally nominated Margot Robbie twice in the same category instead of considering one of the many women of color who would be eligible for nomination—it would be a step in the right direction for this organization. It’s clear that the choices of the César Academy have not been in line with the views of the community they claim to be reflecting, but the decision to nominate Polanski’s film for so many awards goes far beyond a simple generational divide.

Being out of touch sounds silly, but potentially harmless. Enabling a convicted rapist, on the other hand, is anything but.

Freelance writer & night blogger at Jezebel. Lover of television, astrology, and sandwiches.


Roaring Girl

France, can we talk?

Look, I love you. I love you unreasonably. I love you outrageously. A photo of la Place de la Concorde at dusk is enough to make me weep. I love your culture. I love your language. I love your burning, restless light. I love your darkness—not because it is good, but because it it part of you, and I will love you completely, or I will not love you at all.

I love your violent, repellent, admirable, heartbreaking and wholly glorious history. You have always been nonpareil, and have never for a moment been less than totally yourself. You have been a beacon of civilization for centuries and have had an impact on the course of human history like few others.

So, I think it is clear that I am coming from a place of the most profound respect and admiration when I ask, What the FUCK are you doing? One lauded pedophile is going to trial, so the cultural elite go ahead, and with no sense of irony whatsoever, nominate a different pedophile for your most prestigious film awards? 

You know that weird, high-pitched whine you’re hearing right now? That’s Balzac and Hugo spinning in their graves. You might want to sit down for a cogitate and figure out why.