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The Cesars of French cinema take a stand against sexual crimes

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PARIS – Movie stars and other workers in the film industry found guilty or likely to be sentenced to prison for sexual or gender-based violence are banned from the awards ceremony for the best French film “out of respect for the victims”.

The César Awards – the French equivalent of the Oscars and scheduled for February 24 in Paris this year – is a sparkling annual event on the film industry calendar in France.

But the Caesars have also come under scrutiny – like other sections of the global movie industry – following the #MeToo social movement against sexual violence.

Women’s rights activists protest outside the 2020 ceremony where director Roman Polanski won an award. Actress Adèle Haenel, who alleged she was sexually assaulted by another French director in the early 2000s when she was 15, got up and walked out of the room, followed by a few others, when Polanski was named best director for “An Officer and a Spy”. ”

Polanski did not attend the ceremony, calling it a “public lynching”. He is still wanted in the United States, decades after he was accused of raping a 13-year-old girl in 1977. He pleaded guilty to unlawful sex with a minor but fled the country on the eve of sentencing.

The board that oversees the Caesars has in recent months considered possible rules to cover up potential contestants suspected of crimes. This work continues. In November, the board also removed actor Sofiane Bennacer from possible consideration for a newcomer award this year after French media reported he was being investigated for rape presumed.

In the meantime, the council has drawn up the rules for this year’s ceremony, announcing this week that “out of respect for the victims” it has “decided not to shed light on those accused by the judicial authorities of acts of violence”.

Potential nominees will not be invited to this year’s awards ceremony if they are being investigated for abuse punishable by imprisonment, including sexual or gender-based violence, the council said. .

The same will apply to people already convicted of such acts, the council said.

Other people would also not be allowed to speak on their behalf if they won an award, he said.

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