Roman Polanksi win at the César Awards prompts walkouts

Ben Arnold
Contributor
Women protest near the venue of the Cesar awards ceremony, the French equivalent of the Oscars (Credit: AP Photo/Rafael Yaghobzadeh)

Director Roman Polanski's win for Best Director at the César Awards, the French equivalent of the Oscars, prompted walk-outs and angry protests outside the venue in Paris.

Several actors walked out on the announcement of Polanski's name, who was nominated for 12 awards for his latest movie An Officer and A Spy.

Read more: César board resigns en masse in Polanski protest

Polanski pleaded guilty to unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl in 1977, and has since been accused by other women of rape and sexual assault, though he has denied the allegations.

Adèle Haenel, star of the movie Portrait Of A Lady On Fire, was among those who stood and walked out when Polanski's name was read out.

Actress Adele Haenel arrives to attend the Cesar award ceremony, Friday, Feb. 28, 2020 in Paris (Credit: AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

She appeared to be shouting 'shame' as she did so, and in the lobby of the Salle Pleyel was heard to shout 'Bravo, peadophilia!'

According to French newspaper Le Monde, 'very few' in attendance applauded Polanski's win.

Céline Sciamma, director of Portrait Of A Lady On Fire, which was also nominated for a number of awards, also left the venue, as did actress Noémie Merlant and the cinematographer Claire Mathon, according to reports.

Polanski's nominations have been the subject of much scrutiny this year, with entirety of the 21- person board of the Association for the Promotion of Cinema, which runs the Césars, resigning last month in protest of Polanski's nominations.

Read more: Outrage over Polanski nominations

The director, who is 87, said he was pulling out of appearing at the ceremony last week, saying in a statement to AFP: “We know how this evening will unfold already.

“Activists are already threatening me with a public lynching, with some saying they are going to protest outside.

Roman Polanski (Credit: AP Photo, File)

“What place can there be in such deplorable conditions for a film about the defence of truth, the fight for justice, blind hate and antisemitism?”

Many protested outside the Salle Pleyel, with French police reportedly using tear gas to try and disperse the crowd.

In an interview with The New York Times last month, Haenel said: “Distinguishing Polanski is spitting in the face of all victims. It means raping women isn’t that bad.”