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French actor Adele Haenel, who walked out of the 2020 ceremony in protest of Roman Polanski’s Best Director awardvia Instagram (@adelehaenel)

The French Oscars ban all nominees accused of sexual violence

The César film awards refuse to ‘highlight people who may have been implicated by the judiciary in acts of violence’

The Académie des César, the awarding body of France’s Oscars equivalent, has announced that any nominee who has been accused of sexual misconduct will be barred from the ceremony on February 25, 2023.

In a statement, the French Academy declared that “out of respect for the victims... it has been decided not to highlight people who may have been implicated by the judiciary in acts of violence,” and went on to add that this also included “presumed” victims in cases that were yet to be resolved.

This announcement follows an investigation into the actor Sofiane Bennacer regarding two alleged rapes and a separate allegation of harassing a former partner, all of which he has denied. Bennacer had been nominated for his part in Les Amandiers, known as Forever Young in the anglophone world.

The French left-wing magazine Libération had run a story in November 2022 featuring testimony from several women accusing the actor of misconduct, however Les Amandiers director Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi described the reaction against Bennacer as a “media lynching”.

Bruni-Tedeschi’s sister, the supermodel and former French first lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, also waded into the dispute, posting a screenshot of the Libération cover to her Instagram account and voicing support for her sister and Bennacer. “Libé has been giving us moral lessons for 40 years, but obviously, the presumption of innocence is completely foreign to it”, she commented.

It’s thought that the French Academy’s recent statement is an attempt to quell any protests that could have erupted if Bennacer was honoured at the 2023 ceremony. This follows a similar incident in 2020, when Roman Polanski was awarded Best Director, despite a number of sexual assault allegations against his name. When Polanski was announced as the winner, a number of notable artists walked out of the ceremony in protest, including the French actress Adèle Haenel and Portrait of a Lady on Fire director Céline Sciamma.

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