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Roman Polanski Pulls Out of Cesar Presidency Amid Protests

French-Polish director Roman Polanski has pulled out of the presidency of France’s Cesar Awards, the country’s equivalent to the Oscars, amid widespread protests, Variety has confirmed.

The protests across France was sparked by a local feminist organization called Osez le Feminisme which claimed that appointing the filmmaker as president was “an insult to rape and sexual assault victims” and called for a boycott of the Cesar. The org collected approximately 60,000 signatures to have Polanski pulled out. After days of outcry, Polanski’s lawyer told the Associated Press that his client had renounced to be the president of the Cesar, a honorary role which entailed an opening speech.

Polanski, who previously received seven Cesar prizes, was tapped to preside the upcoming 42d Cesar ceremony next month by Alain Terzian, who runs the French Academy of Cinema Arts and Techniques.

Terzian, who is also a film producer, called Polanski an “insatiable aesthete (…) who has been reinventing his arts and films through the years.”

Although Polanski has many allies within the French film industry, including his current producer Wassim Beji and distributor Stephane Celerier, among others, he is also considered a controversial figure in the country. In the U.S., where he won an Oscar for “The Pianist” in 2003, Polanski is still wanted by authorities for having sex with a minor, in a case dating back to 1977. A bid by the U.S. to have him extradited him was recently rejected by Poland’s supreme court.

Polanski is making his next film, “Based on a True Story, a psychological thriller written by Olivier Assayas, in France. Lionsgate is handling international sales on the movie with stars Eva Green and Emmanuelle Seigner.

Celerier, who runs France’s top independent distribution company Mars Disribution and will release “Based on a True Story” in France, said he has had the opportunity to work and interact with Polanski on various occasions.

“He’s a wonderful filmmaker as well as a man who is both highly delicate and deeply kind. A caring and loving father and a marvelous husband,” said Celerier about Polanski.

Polanski’s latest film, “Venus in Fur,” competed at Cannes in 2013.

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