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Polanski topped the nominations for this year’s César awards (file pic 2014)
The entire board of the César Academy, which distributes France’s equivalent of the Oscars, has resigned amid a wave of criticism of its nomination for 12 awards for a film by Roman Polanski.The decision to honour Polanski’s An Officer and a Spy has angered feminist groups and led to calls for a boycott.The Polish-French director has been wanted in the US for the statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl since the 1970s.Hundreds of actors, producers and directors have also called for reform.In an open letter this week, they denounced “dysfunction” at the César Academy and opacity in its management. The César Academy’s decision to step down en masse came as a shock ahead of the glittering 45th awards ceremony in Paris, which is to be held on 28 February.In a statement on Thursday night, the academy said the board had “unanimously decided to resign” to “honour those men and women who made cinema happen in 2019, to find calm and ensure that the festival of film remains just that, a festival”.”This collective decision will allow complete renewal of the board,” it added.A general meeting is set to be held after this month’s ceremony to elect a new board, which will look at implementing reforms and modernising the institution. Culture Minister Franck Riester said the César Academy must operate democratically, in the spirit of “openness, transparency, parity and diversity”.What’s the background?The César Academy has faced controversy in recent months.Many called for a boycott when Polanski’s film An Officer and a Spy, or J’accuse in French, received 12 award nominations. The Polish-French director fled the US after his rape conviction in the 1970s, and has since faced other accusations of sexual assault.
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