Roman Polanski won’t attend ‘French Oscars’ over “public lynching” fears

He's been a fugitive from the US for more than 40 years

Roman Polanski has said he won’t attend the César awards – France’s version of the Oscars – because he predicts “deplorable conditions” in which activists will gather to protest against him.

The 87-year-old film director, who has been a fugitive from the US criminal justice system since 1978 after pleading guilty to statutory rape, has 12 nominations for his 2019 film ‘An Officer and a Spy’. He said he won’t attend the event due to fears of “public lynching” by feminist activists.

Roman Polanski
Roman Polanski (Picture: Getty)

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“We know how this evening will unfold already,” Polanski said in a statement to AFP. “Activists are already threatening me with a public lynching, with some saying they are going to protest outside.

“What place can there be in such deplorable conditions for a film about the defence of truth, the fight for justice, blind hate and antisemitism?”

Earlier this week, French actress Adèle Haenel (Portrait of a Lady on Fire) berated the Césars for honouring the French-Polish filmmaker. In 2018, Haenel accused The Devils director Christophe Ruggia of sexual harassment.

“Distinguishing Polanski is spitting in the face of all victims,” she said. “It means raping women isn’t that bad.”

Polanski’s decision to be absent from the awards follows the mass resignation of the French film academy, which awards the Césars. Dozens were forced to move on after Polanski’s film about the Dreyfus affair became the favourite to win the top accolades [via The Guardian].

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Academy head Alain Terzian defended the choice to include An Officer and a Spy (titled J’accuse in France) in this year’s awards, saying it “should not take moral positions”.

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