Roman Polanski Steps Down from César Awards Presidency Following Backlash

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Roman Polanski Steps Down from César Awards Presidency Following Backlash

Legendary director Roman Polanski (Repulsion, Chinatown, The Pianist) has resigned from his post as President of the César Awards, the national film award for France, Deadline reports.

This development followed a week of outrage during which French women’s groups condemned Polanski’s then-newly announced presidency. Their reaction stemmed from the fact that, in 1977, the filmmaker had been charged with drugging and raping a 13-year-old girl, and, moreover, had fled the country on the eve of sentencing after it was revealed that the plea deal he had made with the judge might not hold.

Since then, Polanski, who holds French citizenship, has been a fugitive residing primarily in France, a country that, per Deadline, forbids the extradition of its citizens. The feminists’ organization Osez Le Feminisme, indignant at the idea of a statutory rapist occupying a position of honor within the arts community, vowed to boycott the César Awards, which will be taking place on Feb. 24.

Over the past week, several figures in the arts industry have risen to the director’s defense, including actor Gilles Lellouche and former French Culture Minister Aurélie Filippetti. Osez Le Feminisme has yet to respond to Polanski’s decision.

The reigniting of the Polanski fiasco follows several other instances over the past year in which an artist’s past conduct came to haunt his present work, most notably Nate Parker of The Birth of a Nation and Casey Affleck of Manchester By the Sea.