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The Césars, France’s equivalent to the Oscars, has banned anyone indicted for, or convicted of, a criminal sexual offense, from attending this year’s awards ceremony. Actors, directors, producers or other artists who have been charged or convicted of sexual crimes can still be nominated for a César, and can still win the award, but they will not be allowed to attend the gala ceremony and, if they win, “no one will be allowed to speak on their behalf.”
The César Academy has been sharply criticized of late for its laissez-faire approach to dealing with members accused of sexual crimes. Things came to a head recently when the actor Sofiane Bennacer, who appears in Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi’s Cannes title Forever Young, was put on the César shortlist in the best newcomer category. The César Academy eventually dropped him from the list after it emerged that he had been indicted on multiple charges of rape and violence.
The French film industry has been notoriously slow to address demands from the #MeToo movement to punish those accused of sexual violence and to make structural changes to protect victims. Gerard Depardieu’s indictment on rape charges has not stopped the French star from getting work. Despite facing trial on sexual assault charges, Dominique Boutonnat, the president of the National Film Board (CNC), was reelected to a second term at the powerful industry group last year.
When Roman Polanski won best director for An Officer and a Spy at the 2020 Césars it prompted multiple walkouts and triggered a backlash against the academy. Polanski did not attend the ceremony, saying he wanted to avoid a “public lynching.”
On Monday, the Césars issued a statement saying out of “respect for the victims (even alleged ones)” accused and convicted perpetrators will be excluded from the upcoming awards ceremony.
The move is the first step in a broader shake-up at the Césars. The academy is discussing long-term changes to eligibility rules that it will put to a member vote in the first half of this year.
The 2023 Césars will take place on Feb. 24.
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