French César Awards Impose Invitation Restriction on Individuals Indicted for Sexual Violence

Following some major controversies, the French César Academy has voted to not extend invitations to the 28 César Awards to anybody indicted or sentenced for acts of sexual violence.

According to Variety, under this new decision, no actor, filmmaker, producer, or other industry professional can be allowed to attend any events produced by the César Academy, the French equivalent to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. However, said individuals can still be nominated and even win a César award, but can not accept them in person, nor send anyone to speak at the ceremony on their behalf.

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The decision follows a recent scandal involving Sofiane Bennacer, an actor in the Valeria Bruni Tedeschi Cannes film “Forever Young,” who was included on the shortlist for the Best Newcomer category at the César Awards. Following reports that Bennacer has been indicted on multiple charges of rape and violence, the César Academy eventually removed him from the shortlist.

In 2020, the César Academy faced intense criticism when Roman Polanski, a fugitive of the United States for his 1977 rape of a 13-year old girl, won best director for his film “An Officer and a Spy.” Polanski did not attend the ceremony, but his win promoted several walkouts, including from Best Actress nominee Adèle Haene from “Portrait of a Lady on Fire.”

“By respect for victims (even alleged ones in the case of an indictment or a non-definitive sentence) it has been decided to not highlight people who are either indicted or sentenced for acts of violence, notably sexual or sexist violence,” the Academy said in their letter, according to Variety.

During the first half of 2023, the César Academy is expected to hold a vote that will determine more long-term changes to eligibility rules, including potential outright bans to individuals indicted, sentenced, or pending trials for sexual violence.

The news also follows another high profile French controversy where Dominique Boutonnat, the president of the French government’s National Film Board (known as the CNC), was renamed for a second three-year term at the agency this past July. Boutonnant was indicted for the alleged sexual assault of his godson in February last year, and was ordered to stand trial this September.

The 2023 César Awards will take place February 24, with nominations expected to be announced later this year. David Fincher will receive an honorary César Award during the ceremony.

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