Veronique Cayla, the well-respected film and TV executive who recently stepped down from the leadership of Franco-German public culture channel Arte France, will preside the Cesar Academy, which distributes France’s equivalent to the Oscars. Eric Toledano, the popular co-director of smash-hit “The Intouchables” and a key member of the film guild ARP, will be vice-president of the Cesar Academy.
Both Cayla and Toledano were elected for a two-year mandate by the new administration board of the Academy, which includes 42 reps from 21 different fields within the film industry, from actors to crew members, screenwriters, directors and producers. Gender parity has been applied with a man and a woman representing each branch.
The new administration board includes the actors Marina Fois and Antoine Reinartz, the directors Pascale Ferran and Cédric Klapisch, the screenwriters Olivier Gorce and Julier Peyr, the producers Alain Attal and Marie-Ange Luciani, the publicist and agent Sébastien Cauchon and Elisabeth Tanner, UniFrance’s managing director Danièla Elstner and distributor Alexandre Mallet-Guy, and Christine Beauchemin-Flot and Richard Patry, who are repping exhibitors.
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.
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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.
“With have both heard and understood your demands with regards to parity, transparence and democracy,” said Cayla, who is coming off a near 10-year tenure at Arte France.
“In terms of parity, we would like to thank those who have set up this election process in duo to take into consideration the diversity of the fields and genres in French cinema. We should reach (these goals) without any problem,” said Cayla, who previously served as president of the public Centre National du Cinema and managing director of the Cannes Film Festival.
During her time at Arte France, she outlined plans for the launch of a European VOD platform with ARD and ZDF in Germany and France Télévisions in France, and led Arte to broaden its scope with subtitled programs in English, Spanish, Polish and Italian to reach over 360 million European citizens.
Toledano, meanwhile, is the socially- and politically-engaged co-director (with Olivier Nakache) of “The Intouchables” and most recently “The Specials” which closed last year’s Cannes festival and tells the true story of two friends from different religious faiths who created nonprofit organizations for children with severe autism. In each film, Toledano and Nakache tackle contemporary issues and have cast visible minorities in leading roles in a way that remains rare in France.
“I measure the responsibility that’s ours to bring back some calm and serenity after a long moment when the word Cesar was associated to the word controversy,” said Toledano.
“The Cesar is before anything a tribute to talent, a showcase and a celebration of cinema, and it’s wishing a complicated context, which we have all understood is here to stay for some time, that we must gather up our strengths to preserve the (Cesar Awards) and all the events that depend from the Academy,” added Toledano.
The date of the 2021 Cesar ceremony, which usually takes place the same weekend as the Oscars, has not yet been unveiled.