The French César Academy, the French equivalent to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, has voted to not extend invitations for the upcoming César Awards to anybody who has been indicted or sentenced for acts of sexual or sexist violence.
Instead of simply removing such person from the pool of eligible actors, filmmakers, producers and artists, the César Academy has taken a baby-step approach, saying it will not allow such individuals to be invited at any of its events. Under these new guidelines, if that person wins a César Award, “no one will be allowed to speak on their behalf,” the org stated in a letter.
This decision follows the recent scandal surrounding the shortlisting of Sofiane Bennacer, the French actor of Valeria Bruni Tedeschi’s Cannes movie “Forever Young,” for best newcomer at the César Awards. The César Academy eventually decided to exclude him from the shortlist after reports came out saying he had been indicted on multiple charges of rape and violence.
Back in 2020, the Césars also faced criticism when Roman Polanski won best director for “An Officer and a Spy,” prompting numerous walkouts. The backlash played a large part in a radical shake-up of César leadership and its operational model.
“By respect for victims (even alleged ones in the case of an indictment or a non-definitive sentence) it has been decided to not highlight people who are either indicted or sentenced for acts of violence, notably sexual or sexist violence,” stated the org. Also excluded from the spotlight at the upcoming César ceremony are “people who are currently facing a pending sentence for such acts.”
The body said it will discuss eventual long-term changes to eligibility rules during a vote which will take place during the first half of 2023.
The French film industry has been notoriously lukewarm towards the #MeToo movement. In spite of some efforts spearheaded by the advocacy group 50:50 to increase gender parity at major festivals, as well as in movies and series, several high profile French figures have continued getting work despite being accused or indicted. Gerard Depardieu, who has been indicted on rape charges, is a recent example. Another is Dominique Boutonnat, the president of the National Film Board (CNC), who was named for a second term at the helm of the powerful body in spite of being indicted for alleged sexual assault and facing trial.
The 48th edition of the César Awards will take place on Feb. 24 and will hand out a honorary award to American director David Fincher.