An award ceremony that is considered as France’s equivalent to the Oscars prompted walkouts after Roman Polanski was named Best Director.
The filmmaker was convicted of statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl in 1977, and the Cesar Awards made headlines earlier this year after nominating his latest film An Officer and a Spy 12 times.
Polanski also faces other accusations of sexual assault, including the alleged rape of Valentine Monnier in 1975 when she was 18 years old.
Following the announcement that he had won, actor Adele Haenel stood up and left the room, reportedly shouting the word “shame” as she did so.
Celine Sciamma, who directed Haenel in Portrait of a Lady on Fire, followed suit alongside the ceremony’s host, Florence Foresti, who refused to return to the stage after Polanski had won.
Foresti later posted a story to her Instagram account of a blank screen with the word “disgusted”.
Ahead of the ceremony, protesters gathered outside the Parisian venue Salle Pleyel, with France’s culture minister, Franck Riester, saying it would be “symbolically bad” for Polanski to win Best Director.
Polanski did not attend the event. The film controversially won the Grand Jury Prize at the Venice Film Festival in September 2019.
Last year, Haenel came forward with her own experience of alleged sexual misconduct, accusing director Christophe Ruggia of sexually harassing her between the ages of 12 and 15.
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