The Cesar Academy, which distributes France’s equivalent to the Oscars, has unveiled new rules aimed at ramping up diversity and parity within its board.
The new guidelines were put together with the help of a mediator appointed by France’s National Film Board (CNC) following an industry consultation. Under those new rules, the Cesar Academy will have two presidents, a man and a woman.
The Association for the Promotion of Cinema (APC), the organization that oversees the Cesar Academy, will be increased from 45 to 170 members who will have to be elected by the Academy’s 4,313 members. The idea is to have a wider, more representative pool of members who will be voted on by professionals and artists from every field of the industry. The election is expected to take place in September.
Previously, the members of the APC did not have to be elected, they were part of the APC either because they were founding members, were appointed or an Oscar winner. The APC is responsible for selecting members of the governors board, which in turn votes for the presidency, among other things.
Producer Margaret Menegov was appointed interim president of the org right before this year’s ceremony in February, following an industry-wide revolt that led to the resignation of longtime Cesar Academy president Alain Terzian, along with the rest of the 21-member board of governors.
The Cesar Awards vowed to reform its operating model and corporate leadership after facing a massive backlash and threats of boycott on the eve of the ceremony, partly because Roman Polanski’s “An Officer and a Spy” had earned multiple nominations. The Cesars were also heavily criticized for its board’s opaque practices, boys’ club atmosphere, and for shutting out feminist personalities such as director Claire Denis and author Virginie Despentes from one of the gala events preceding the ceremony.
As many as 400 film figures, including actors Omar Sy and Lea Seydoux, and director Jacques Audiard, signed a petition to overhaul the organization, and argued that other major film ceremonies like the BAFTAs and the European Film Awards were more “democratic” because their members could elect their academy board, among other things.
Polanski’s subsequent best director win further infuriated many in the industry and turned the Feb. 28 ceremony into a fiasco, with many walkouts, including Adele Haenel — the French actor who has accused Christophe Ruggia of abusing her when she was a child.
This year’s best film award went to Ladj Ly’s police brutality drama “Les Miserables,” which was nominated for an Oscar and a Golden Globe.