French film personalities demand change at French Oscars

2 min

Paris (AFP)

More than 200 actors, producers, directors and movie personalities on Tuesday demanded "profound reform" of France's equivalent of the Oscars executive, the Cesar Academy, which they accused of being out of touch.

The academy is already under fire after Roman Polanski's new film "An Officer and a Spy" topped the list of nominations for this year's Cesar awards which will be handed out on February 28.

Polanski has been wanted in the US for the statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl since 1978 and is persona non grata in Hollywood.

But the Cesar Academy has also been widely criticised for allegedly excluding director Claire Denis and writer Virginie Despentes, both considered feminist activists, from a ceremony to announce the contenders for this year's Cesars.

In an open letter, dozens of film industry personalities including actors Omar Sy, Berenice Bejo and Jean-Pierre Bacri, producer siblings Eric and Nicolas Altmayer, and director Jerome Salle, denounced "dysfunction" at the academy and an "opaqueness" of its accounts.

They also complained that the founding statutes of the Cesars had not changed "for a very long time" and that the academy's nearly 5,000 paid-up members do not get a vote or a say in its decisions.

The academy's board, in response to the letter, said it would ask the National Centre for Cinema, a culture ministry agency, to appoint a mediator that will be in charge of "deep reform" of its statutes and governance.

It has previously announced measures to boost female representation in its membership and representation.

The inclusion of Polanski's film on the Cesars' shortlist was condemned by France's equality minister, women’s groups and film critics, but the Cesar Academy said it could not be expected to take "moral positions" when awarding films.