Feminist groups attend a protest against film director Roman Polanski near the venue for the Cesar Awards ceremony in Paris, France, February 28, 2020. REUTERS/Charles Platiau
PARIS (Reuters) – Roman Polanski scooped France’s Cesar Award for best directing for his film “An Officer and a Spy” on Friday, prompting a walkout by several women in the audience in protest at honoring a man facing rape accusations.
Polanski, whose film picked up three awards out of a dozen nominations at the biggest night in French cinema, stayed away from the event, saying he feared for his safety.
Controversy had swirled in past weeks over Polanski’s inclusion in the program and police briefly clashed with protesters ahead of the event.
Among those who left the Pleynel concert hall early was leading actress Adele Haenel, who last year said she had been sexually abused as a child by another director.
Polanski’s movie, which chronicles the persecution of French Jewish army officer Alfred Dreyfus in the 1890s, lost out on best film to “Les Miserables.” The Polanski film won best costume designer and best adaptation.
Polanski’s nominations had divided opinion in France, a country where the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment has struggled to gain traction.
Reporting by Richard Lough and Elizabeth Pineau; Editing by Leslie Adler