France's Cesar Awards to Proceed Without a President After Roman Polanski Withdrawal

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Academy president Alain Terzian shared the news at the annual nominees luncheon, attended by 'My Life as a Zucchini' screenwriter Celine Sciamma but missing best actress contenders Isabelle Huppert and Marion Cotillard.

After the withdrawal of Roman Polanski as the honorary president of France's Cesar Awards, the ceremony will proceed without a president this year.

Academy president Alain Terzian shared the news Saturday in his brief remarks opening the Cesars' annual nominees luncheon at the chic Fouquet’s restaurant on the Champs Elysees in Paris. “The council of the Academy decided that there will be no president,” he said as guests were being seated. “We have not offered it to anyone.”

Terzian said the council had decided to leave the post vacant this year after the “tumult” that followed Polanski’s appointment. “We assume you have seen the uproar,” he said.

Polanski, still wanted in the U.S. since he pled guilty to a rape charge in 1977 and fled before sentencing, was the subject of protests from French feminist groups. The group Osez le Feminisme planned to protest both the Jan. 25 nominations and the ceremony on Feb. 24.

Polanski announced his withdrawal as honorary president on Jan. 24, and the group called off the protests.

The traditional luncheon for honorees was missing best actress nominees Isabelle Huppert and Marion Cotillard, but Celine Sciamma, the screenwriter of the Oscar-nominated animated film My Life as a Zucchini, was among the guests in attendance.

“We’re a small contender, but being nominated was the goal, the dream,” Sciamma told The Hollywood Reporter. “It’s a thrill to go already for such a special, small, European film.” The scribe said she has received several messages from Hollywood about the beauty of the film. The animated movie won two Lumiere Awards last week for best adapted screenplay and animated film, and is nominated for two Cesar Awards in the same categories.

Added Sciamma: “It’s hard to win, but I think it’s already something symbolic that you can actually compete with such an amazing film as Zootopia. That’s the goal when you have such a small picture and then you have a contrast of what exists and what brings film together that’s not antagonistic, and we’re happy with that.”

Along with director Claude Barras, Sciamma will be on the first flight out the morning after the Cesar Awards ceremony to attend the Oscars.

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