|FRENCH FILM ACADEMYFILM ACADEMY|
The general assembly of France's Académie des Arts et Techniques du Cinéma will meet after the Cesar Awards on Feb. 28 to elect a new leadership.
The board of directors of France's Film Academy has announced their collective resignation, responding to weeks of criticism centered on filmmaker Roman Polanski.
The board made the announcement late Thursday, just two weeks ahead of the 2020 César Awards, which the Academy organizes and which are considered the French equivalent of the Oscars.
"To honor those who made films in 2019, to regain serenity and make the cinema festival a celebration, the board of birectors of the Académie des Arts et Techniques du Cinéma made a unanimous decision to resign," the statement reads. "This collective resignation will allow the complete renewal of the association's management."
The Academy said it would hold a general assembly of its members after this year's Césars, which will be held Feb. 28 in Paris, to elect a new board.
Scandal and controversy have overshadowed the run-up to 2020 Césars after Polanski's new film, An Officer and a Spy J'accuse, picked up 12 Cesar nominations, including for best film and director, leading the field. The 86-year-old Polanski has been a fugitive from U.S. justice since 1978 for the statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl. His nominations sparked outrage among feminist groups who had called for a boycott of the film.
"12 César nominations for Roman Polanski's J'accuse. 12, like the number of women who accuse him of pedo-criminal rape," feminist groups wrote in an open letter Monday to the French press, referring to the many other women who have come forward to accuse the director of sexual assault.
The latest accusation comes from French actress and photographer Valentine Monnier, who alleges Polanski carried out an "extremely violent" assault at his Swiss chalet in 1975 when she was 18, a claim the helmer denies. Polanski has denied all the new allegations against him, most of which date back decades.
On Wednesday, several feminist organizations, including the Feminist Collective Against Rape, the International Association of Victims of Incest and Tolerance Zero, signed an open letter, published Wednesday in daily Le Parisien, titled "If Rape Is an Art, Give Polanski All the Césars."
The letter called upon French Academy voters to not mark their ballots for Polanski or An Officer and a Spy.
An Officer and a Spy tells the true story of counter-espionage officer Georges Picquart, who defied orders and embarked on a compromising mission to clear the name of Captain Alfred Dreyfus, a French-Jewish officer unfairly accused of spying for Germany in the late 1890s. The film premiered in Venice, where it won the runner-up Grand Jury Prize.
In spite of calls for a boycott of the...
Like many industry heavyweights are doing, from Netflix to Comcast, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences wants to do its part in a time of crisis. The Academy has set up a $6 million donation to help support film employees and their families weathering hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and to support those institutions focused on fostering diverse new filmmakers.
The money will be distributed equally between The Actors Fund, which supports behind-the-scenes workers and performers, and the Motion Picture & Television Fund, which has provided relief to those in need since 1921. This fund was instrumental during the advent of the talkies, when many workers were thrown off by the sudden sea change in the industry, and left without jobs.
The Academy will also contribute an additional $2 million to the preexisting Academy Foundation to continue to buttress its Grants Program, which aims to open new paths for storytellers from different backgrounds, and especially from underserved communities. The Academy pledges that all of this relief will take effect immediately.
“The Academy has a long history of supporting our colleagues, particularly during the most dire circumstances,” said Academy president David Rubin in a statement. “As we face a pandemic, it's incumbent upon us to help those in the motion picture community who are suffering. The shutting down of productions, businesses and theaters has had devastating consequences. By contributing financially to The Actors Fund, MPTF, and the Academy Foundation's wonderful grants program, we can help provide our extended family with desperately needed assistance.”
Academy CEO Dawn Hudson said, “The Academy's primary focus right now is helping our community make it through this unprecedented crisis. With our donation, The Actors Fund and MPTF can bring emergency services — including financial assistance, housing, family care and counseling — to more people. Both are long-standing, safety net organizations with the expertise to mobilize and respond quickly. Additionally, the Academy Foundation's Grants Program will be able to continue its ongoing efforts to provide opportunity and funding for deserving, diverse storytellers in an even more effective way, and make sure these individuals feel supported during this time.”