The stars and director of “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” walked out of the 2020 César Awards after convicted sexual predator Roman Polanski won Best Director.
Adèle Haenel, out star of the film, was the first to walk out, exclaiming “Shame!” She was soon followed out of the ceremony by “Portrait” director Céline Sciamma and costar Noemie Merlant. Others followed suit. After Haenel walked out, she was seen behind the scenes chanting, “Bravo, pedophilia!”
Adèle forever. pic.twitter.com/Fhe9xSLxCK
— Portrait of a Lady on Fire (@Portrait_Movie) February 28, 2020
Polanski was awarded the top prize for his movie “An Officer and a Spy.” He beat out Sciamma, who was nominated for “Portrait of a Lady on Fire.”
Polanski has been a fugitive from the U.S. since 1978, after he pled guilty to sexually abusing a 13-year-old girl. He has lived in exile in France ever since. He continues to enjoy a long and successful film career despite his history of sexual assault.
The 86-year-old director was not present at the Césars, nor were any other members of the “Officer and a Spy” team. “Activists are threatening me with a public lynching,” Polanski told Agence France Presse earlier this week. “Some have called for demonstrations, others are planning to make it a platform.”
Haenel has been a prominent voice against sexual abuse in the French film industry recently. She became the first well-known actress in France to speak publicly about the issue when she revealed last year that she was abused by director Christopher Ruggia from the age of 12 to 15. In an interview with The New York Times last week, she explained that the #MeToo movement has failed in France.
“Distinguishing Polanski is spitting in the face of all victims,” Haenel told the Times. “It means raping women isn’t that bad.”
She added that she doesn’t care whether her outspokenness harms her career. “I think I did something good for the world, something that makes me feel upright.”