The entire board of the Cesar Awards, France’s Oscars equivalent, has resigned en masse after weeks of controversy over Roman Polanski’s new film which received the most nominations.
The resignations come just two weeks before the awards, which will feature 12 nominations for An Officer And A Spy, Polanski’s film about a Jewish French officer accused of spying for Germany in the 1890s.
“To honour those who made films in 2019, to regain serenity and make the cinema festival a celebration, the board of directors of the (film academy) made a unanimous decision to resign,” the French film academy said in a statement.
Polanski launched his new film in France last year, just days after a French actress accused him of having raped her in 1975, when she was 18, during a ski holiday in Gstaad, Switzerland.
Polanski, now 86, has denied the accusation.
The French-Polish director fled the United States after pleading guilty in 1977 to having unlawful sex with a
13-year-old girl in Los Angeles.
An Officer And A Spy, J’Accuse in French, is based on Robert Harris’s novel of the same name and stars a French cast which includes Oscar-winner Jean Dujardin and Emmanuelle Seigner, who is married to Polanski.
Feminist groups have called for a boycott of the film and the academy’s “opaqueness” has been criticised in an open letter signed by directors and actors including Dujardin’s The Artist co-star Berenice Bejo and X-Men’s Omar Sy.
Accusations against Polanski predate the sexual harassment scandal that embroiled Hollywood film producer Harvey Weinstein in 2017.
But Polanski’s history came under renewed scrutiny as the #MeToo movement against sexual abuse and harassment grew in response to the allegations against Weinstein, who is on trial for rape and sexual assault in New York.
Polanski was expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2018.