Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - French Oscars academy promises reforms after row



French Oscars academy promises reforms after row

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
The academy came under fire again at the end of last month after Roman Polanski’s film An Officer and a Spy’ topped the list of nominations for this year’s Cesar awards, due to be handed out on February 28. AFP

French Oscars academy promises reforms after row

France's Cesar Academy, which awards its version of the Oscars, was in crisis on Friday after its entire board resigned, overwhelmed by a series of rows that have infuriated both women’s activists and industry insiders.

The mass resignation came two weeks ahead of the their gala awards ceremony and just days after more than 200 leading film actors, producers and directors demanded “profound reform” of the industry.

“To honour those men and women who made cinema happen in 2019, to find calm and ensure that the festival of film remains just that, a festival, the board . . . has unanimously decided to resign,” the academy said in a statement.

“This collective decision will allow complete renewal of the board,” it added.

The move, which has been welcomed by feminist groups, follows weeks of controversy over the academy’s attitude to women and its lack of transparency.

In mid-January there was anger after the academy refused to let two young actresses invite their mentors, film-makers Virginie Despentes and Claire Denis, to a dinner organised to honour the up-and-coming actors. Despentes and Denis are outspoken feminists.

The academy came under fire again at the end of last month after Roman Polanski’s film An Officer and a Spy topped the list of nominations for this year’s Cesar awards, due to be handed out on February 28.

Growing pressure

Polanski is already persona non grata in Hollywood over the 1978 statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl. More recently he has denied new rape allegations from photographer Valentine Monnier, who says he raped her at his Swiss chalet in 1975.

France’s equality minister, women’s groups and some film critics condemned the inclusion of Polanski’s film on the Cesars’ shortlist. But president of the academy Alain Terzian said it could not be expected to take “moral positions” when evaluating films.

The open letter from leading film industry figures, published late on Monday in the French daily Le Monde, called for reform of the academy’s statutes, “which have not changed for a very long time”.

It protested that its 4,700 members had no say on how the academy, or even its awards ceremony, was run. It attacked its lack of transparency and the under-representation of women.

Signatories included many of French cinema’s brightest and best: actors Mathieu Almaric and Elodie Bouchez; directors Bertrand Tavernier and Jacques Audiard; and producer Michel Hazanavicius, who picked up the 2011 Best Picture Oscar for The Artist.

In response, Terzian announced reforms were on the way, including moves to remedy the under-representation of women.

In the end however, the growing pressure proved too much.

Thursday night’s statement announcing the unanimous decision of the board to resign said this would allow for a complete overhaul of the academy at a general assembly to be held after the February 28 awards ceremony.

French feminist groups had already demonstrated outside cinemas showing Polanski’s film. When it topped the list of nominations, they called for those with votes at the academy to snub the film.

And in an open letter to the press on Tuesday, they called for protests outside the award ceremony itself, in Paris’ Salle Pleyel auditorium.

On Thursday night, they were celebrating news of the board’s resignation.

“When we mobilise, things happen!”, feminist collective Nous Toutes (All Of Us) wrote on Twitter.

Another group, Osez Le Feminisme (Dare Feminism), said: “Imagine what’s next. A new voting panel without male self-confidence, opacity and sexism. Will we finally stop applauding rapists and paedophiles on the run?”

But feminist groups are still calling for the protests outside the Cesars ceremony to be maintained.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hun Sen: Full country reopening to be decided in two weeks

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has announced that if the Covid-19 situation remains stable for 15 consecutive days from the end of the October 5-7 Pchum Ben public holiday, Cambodia will reopen fully, albeit in the context of Covid-19 whereby people have to adjust their lives to

  • Cambodia unveils new quarantine regulations

    The government has modified Covid-19 quarantine requirements, shortening the duration for, among others, Cambodian officials, foreign diplomats and delegations, investors and inbound travellers in general. According to an official notice signed by Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng late on October 16, quarantine length for Cambodian

  • Cambodia sets new Covid-19 quarantine rules

    The government has modified Covid-19 quarantine requirements, shortening the duration for, among others, Cambodian officials, foreign diplomats and delegations, investors and inbound travellers in general. According to an official notice signed by Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng late on October 16, quarantine length for Cambodian

  • Hun Sen: Cambodia set to fully reopen

    Prime Minister Hun Sen concludes that the October 5-7 Pchum Ben public holiday, during which many people either flocked to their hometowns for family reunion or gathered at tourist attractions across the country, has not caused an outbreak of Covid-19. In a special address to

  • Will Evergrande change the way Chinese developers do business in Cambodia?

    China’s property sector policy has exposed the grim financial condition of real estate developers including those operating in Cambodia, which raises questions over the viability of their projects and business going forward The dark blue netting draping over one of Yuetai Group Co Ltd’

  • Cambodia voted ‘world’s friendliest country’ in Rough Guides reader poll

    Cambodia ranked number one among the “World’s Friendliest Countries”, according to a reader poll conducted by London-based international website “Rough Guides”. Taking submissions through Twitter and Facebook, “Rough Guides”, a well-known travel agency and publisher of guidebooks, said the Kingdom “was by far the