On November 4, last year, 4,689 members of the Cesar Academy nominated Roman Polanski ‘s film “J’accuse” in 12 separate categories. And last night, Polanski himself was named by the said Academy in that of the best director, the film being awarded two other prizes.
Of course, the presumption of innocence is an essential principle of our law. But the facts also exist: Roman Polanski recognized the sexual offenses for which he was convicted. Later publicly accused by several women of sexual assault and rape (now prescribed), he never filed a defamation complaint.
To distinguish the man from the artist ? In reality, the way he deals with the Dreyfus affair introduces great ambiguity on this point. By suggesting on several occasions that the situation which was made to him by the Californian courts then by the feminists, could be compared to the fate of the captain Dreyfus condemned by justice, by the public opinion, by the antisemites for a crime that he hadn’t committed, Roman Polanski has muddled the waters.
And let’s put it simply : Captain Dreyfus undoubtedly deserved better!
Did the members of the Académie des César discover too late the very good “Juger du J’accuse” published in the January / February 2020 opus of the review Esprit, under the pen of the historian Vincent Duclert ?
“Roman Polanski’s propensity to present himself as a victim by seizing the figure of Dreyfus discredits his accusers in advance (who weighed the risks they took in doing so) and today places the spectators of his film in an uncomfortable situation since, in a certain way, by going to see J’accuse, they risk to endorse such a personal strategy. “
In truth, no one was supposed to ignore the will of the man and the artist.
So why ?
The Journal du Dimanche newspaper recalled it on February 8: “This small association that governs the Cesar awards is reputed to be opaque and archaic, like its governing bodies : the general assembly has only 17% women (8 out of 47 members), the board of directors 28.5% (6 out of 21), half of the members being more than 70 years of age. “
So rather than wondering about the message that this small aging male association wanted to send, let’s look to tomorrow! Thank you Adèle Haenel, thank you Florence Foresti : last night, you were the honor of French cinema !
Iconography: Adèle Haenel at the César ceremony, February 28, 2020. © Christophe Ena / AP / SIPA