French Feminist Groups Plan Protest of Cesar Awards After Roman Polanski Named President

Roman Polanski - H 2015
Nicolas Guerin/Contour by Getty Images

The director is set to preside over the prestigious awards ceremony in February.

French feminist organization d’Osez le Feminisme is planning to protest the upcoming Cesar Awards, following the appointment of director Roman Polanski as president of the ceremony.

“We are nauseated,” the group wrote in a press release calling for the protest in front of the red carpet, a boycott of viewing the awards and of CanalPlus, which broadcasts the ceremony.

“The appointment of Roman Polanski is an outrageous act to the many victims of rape and sexual assault,” said the feminist organization, noting that many people still support him as a filmmaker. “We reply that the quality of his filmography has little do with the crime he committed, his flight, and his refusal to assume his responsibilities.

Polanski is still wanted in the U.S. on charges pertaining to the rape of a 13-year-old girl in 1977. He pled guilty but fled the country before he could be sentenced. France does not have an extradition treaty with the U.S. and the supreme court of Poland, his home country, ruled last year that he could not be extradited.

The group also launched a petition that has gathered over 54,000 signatures so far.

“It is an insult to women and the suffering they can endure, an insult to rape victims (one woman every seven minutes),” organizers wrote. “By their choice the Academy has revealed itself to be a profoundly conservative institution when it comes to the rights of women.”

Minister for women’s rights Laurence Rossignol expressed her disappointment in the Academy for appointing Polanski, calling the decision “surprising and shocking.”

“The choice testifies, on behalf of those who decided to appoint him president of the Cesars, of an indifference to the facts," she said. “It’s no big deal to the organizers that Roman Polanski is being prosecuted in the United States and has committed the rape of a 13-year-old child.”

Culture minister Audrey Azoulay took a more neutral stance, noting the French Academy is an independent body and that the case is 40 years old.

“The case will continue to haunt Roman Polanski the rest of his life,” she said. “But he nevertheless remains a filmmaker of great talent who has since been honored with multiple Cesars. This is what is at issue in the choice made by the Academy.”

As president of the ceremony, Polanski will open the awards with a traditional speech before handing the show over to a host for skits and prizes.

The Cesar Awards are scheduled to take place Feb. 24.