After receiving tremendous backlash from women’s rights activists and other organizations, director Roman Polanski has withdrawn himself from the presidency of France’s César Awards (the nation’s equivalent to the Oscars). A statement released on Tuesday from his lawyer confirmed the 83-year-old director’s decision.
“[The] controversy… deeply saddened Roman Polanski and affected his family,” said his lawyer Herve Temime. “However, in order not to disturb the Césars ceremonies, which should focus on the cinema and not on the appointment of the (event’s) president, Roman Polanski has decided not accept the invitation… and will not preside over the next Césars ceremonies,” the statement read.
Protests erupted across France and around the world since the initial announcement of Polanksi’s presidency was made just a week ago. Local French feminist organization, Osez le Feminisme, called for an official boycott against the ceremony. The group began a petition, which received over 60,000 signatures in order to have Polanski removed from the position.
The outrage following France’s National Film Academy’s (Académie des César) decision to appoint Polanski is not surprising. Polanski pled guilty to drugging and raping an underage girl in 1977. He then fled to France, where he would remain in exile and wanted by U.S. authorities for decades.
Despite his past conviction, Polanski has continued to make films and his work is still celebrated within the film industry. He has won seven César awards, including Best Director and Best Film for 2003’s The Pianist. He also won an Oscar for the latter film. His most recent film, Venus in Fur, won the César for Best Film in 2014.
There is no word yet as to who will replace Polanski as president. Nominees for the awards ceremony will be announced tomorrow — Wednesday, Jan. 25 ~Ashleen Grange