The French Cesar Academy, which hands out the nation’s most prestigious film award, has decided not to invite to its ceremony anyone who has been convicted of or even who is being charged with acts of violence, particularly in sex crimes.
In a statement on Monday, the academy said that, out of respect for victims, even presumed ones, “it has been decided not to highlight people who are either indicted on or sentenced for acts of violence, notably of a sexual or sexist nature.”
Such people “cannot be invited to the Ceremony, nor to any of the events associated with it and organized by the Cesar Academy,” the statement read, adding that “no one will be allowed to speak on their behalf” either.
The Cesar Academy said it was still debating whether those being indicted or who are convicted of violence and of sex-related offenses should in future be completely banned from even being nominated or being awarded a prize, with a decision expected in the coming weeks.
The academy's resolution on who gets to attend its awards event comes following a controversy involving Sofiane Bennacer, a French actor who was shortlisted for a Cesar Award nomination. In October, he was indicted on rape and violence charges against his ex-girlfriends. That case is proceeding and Bennacer denies any wrongdoing. In November, the Academy decided to exclude him from its nominations list.
This is not the first time the Academy has had to grapple with the issue of sex-related or violent unlawful behaviour. In 2020, several actors walked out from the Cesar Awards Ceremony after Roman Polanski, who is convicted in the US of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor, was named best director. Meanwhile, just the fact itself that Polanski had even been nominated had sparked major protests outside the awards-ceremony venue.
The 2023 Cesar Awards ceremony is expected to take place in February, with 632 eligible French and foreign short and feature films being reviewed by the Academy members. In total, 3,213 film professionals are participating in the contest, competing for the 24 Cesar awards.