Polanski announced on Thursday via French news service AFP that “For several days, people have been asking me if I will or won’t be coming to the ceremony. The question is more so: How could I?… Activists are threatening me with a public lynching. Some have called for demonstrations, others are planning to make it a platform… This promises to look more like a symposium than a celebration of cinema designed to reward its greatest talents.”
To give more context to his response, Polanski has always been an incredibly controversial director and the target of criticism due to his past allegations of sexual assault. He fled the United States and has lived in France since 1978 on the eve of the final sentencing in a statutory rape case of a 13 year old girl. Polanski has continued to make films despite this flawed background but, with the rise of the #MeToo movement, a number of other women have accused Polanski for sexual assault, all of which he has denied.
Polanski’s latest film, An Officer And A Spy, had a successful box office in France but also drew protestors at the premiere screening in November. Resistance continues as posters plastered on the front of the Salle Pleyel, which is where the Cesars will take place, denounced Polanski’s nominations, which include best director and best film. Women’s Rights groups expressed outrage at the French Film Academy for rewarding a man who has been deemed as a rapist, and have stated plans to disrupt the ceremony on Friday with staged protests.
Earlier this month, the Academy’s board of directors abruptly announced their collective resignation, complaining about the lack of diversity among this year’s nominees and a lack of transparency within the organization they called an “elitist and closed” system, giving no voices to the underrepresented. The academy stated that it would hold a general assembly to elect a new board after this year’s Cesars, which will be held Feb. 28 in Paris.