Polanski’s ‘Oscar’ divides elite world of French cinema

 

The elite world of French cinema, one of the pillars of the country’s exception culturelle, was bitterly divided after Roman Polanski was named best director at France’s equivalent of the Oscars.Several actresses walked out on Friday night as the César was awarded to the Franco-Polish director who is still wanted in the United States after he admitted the statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl.The award was viewed as provocative and a slap in the face for sexual abuse victims and #MeToo campaigners who have struggled to gain recognition in France. Outside the ceremony, feminists clashed with police. Polanski, 86, had stayed away, saying he feared a “feminist lynching”.On Saturday, Ursula Le Menn, an activist with Osez le Féminisme (“Dare to be feminist”), the group that organised the protest outside the ceremony, said the award showed that nothing had changed in the world of French cinema. “The empathy shown is a facade …. There is no real change of mentality,” she said.

Polanski’s film, J’Accuse (An Officer and a Spy), about the Dreyfus affair, was nominated for 12 Césars, and won two others – for best adaptation and best costume design. But it was the decision to name him best director that caused the most outrage.

“Polanski has presented himself like Dreyfus, a victim, and used his film for his own defence. For women who have had the courage to speak out about the abuse they suffered, there is an enormous pain seeing this man distinguished,” said Le Menn.

“We ask women to come forward and speak out and they see not only are there no consequences for their aggressors, but those same aggressors are honoured in this way.”

Actress Adèle Haenel, who last year revealed she had been sexually abused as a child by another director, shouted “Shame!” as she left the awards. Others followed, including the director Céline Sciamma. The ceremony’s host, Florence Foresti, also failed to return to close the event. On her Twitter account Foresti said she was “disgusted”.

Alexis Poulin, a French journalist and co-founder of an online media site, said many in France felt the same way. “A lot of people in France are disgusted this morning. What happened yesterday was wrong and I have been saying this for ever. I think it’s unfair Polanski is given all these honours,” he said.

“Giving Polanski a prize was quite a statement. The film is something a lot of people work on, not just him. Giving him the prize protects him – it says you cannot reach him and the French cinema elite will stick together: it’s like a cinema mob and he’s the godfather.

“It says to the victims, ‘we don’t want to hear you, you are nothing, we don’t trust you’,” Poulin added.

J’Accuse recounts the persecution of the French Jewish army officer Alfred Dreyfus in the 1890s, convicted of trumped-up charges of treason. In an interview to promote the film, Polanski admitted he saw himself like Dreyfus: “I am familiar with many of the workings of the apparatus of persecution shown in the film… I can see the same determination to deny the facts and condemn me for things I have not done. Most of the people who harass me do not know me and know nothing about the case.”

Poulin said the award had revealed a deep problem in French society. “Polanski fled and found refuge in France. In France, we accept rapists on the run because they’re artists. It’s a problem of French society.”

Polanski admitted the statutory rape of 13-year-old Samantha Gailey in 1977 after more serious charges were dropped in a plea bargain. While awaiting sentencing, he fled the US. France has refused to extradite him.

Since then, a number of other sexual abuse allegations have been made against the director, who became famous with his film Rosemary’s Baby. The most recent was last November when a French photographer, Valentine Monnier, accused Polanski of raping her in 1975, when she was 18, at his chalet in Gstaad, Switzerland. Polanski has denied all the allegations.

He received backing on Saturday from the philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy, who tweeted: “That the #Cesars waited until #Polanski was absent and could not respond, to mock him, humiliate him, overplay disgust and go so far as to refuse to pronounce his name, that says a lot about where the real “Miserables” were last night.”

Source: Polanski’s ‘Oscar’ divides elite world of French cinema | Film | The Guardian

How abused boy scouts made the French church tremble 

The conviction of the archbishop of Lyon for covering up paedophilia in his diocese is a victory for victim and campaigner Francois Devaux, whose dogged efforts to publicise the abuse have made him a hero — and a reluctant cinema star. Archbishop Philippe Barbarin, 68, the most senior French cleric caught up in an abuse […]

Source: How abused boy scouts made the French church tremble – Journal du Cameroun

The Berlinale presents the Grand Jury Prize to François Ozon for “Thank God”, his film on pedophilia in the Church

On Saturday evening, the Berlin Film Festival awarded the Jury Grand Prize to French director François Ozon’s film “Grace to God” on pedophile scandals in the Catholic Church. The Grand Prix is ​​the second major award of the Berlinale after the Golden Bear. This prize was awarded before a court decision Monday on a possible postponement of the release of the film in France.François Ozon shares the prize with his heroes

“This film tries to break the silence of powerful institutions” on these cases of sexual abuse of children, said François Ozon receiving his reward. “I want to share this award with the free men who inspired me” who “were victims of a pedophile priest,” he added, moved. “Alexandre, François and Pierre-Emmanuel, you are my heroes,” greeted the 51-year-old French director.

“Thanks to God” tells the birth of the association of victims The liberated Word, founded in Lyon in 2015 by former scouts abused by a pedophile priest, Bernard Preynat. In total, the association lists nearly 85 victims of this priest. The film follows three victims, incarnated on the screen by the actors Melvil Poupaud, Denis Ménochet and Swann Arlaud.
The subject is in full relevance in France, while held in early January in Lyon the trial of Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, Archbishop of Lyon, and five other people for not denouncing pedophile sexual assault in this case, so-called Barbarin case . The judgment is expected on March 7th. Charged with sexual assault since January 2016, Father Preynat could be tried this year.
 

Source: The Berlinale presents the Grand Jury Prize to François Ozon for “Thank God”, his film on pedophilia in the Church

French priest files to delay release of sex abuse victim film premiering in Berlin 

The French release of a film based on real-life cases of sex abuse allegedly committed by a French priest, which is being premiered Friday at the Berlin film festival, could be delayed. Lawyers for the priest in question, who is accused of molesting more than 80 boys, say the film should not be shown until after his trial later this year.

Director Francois Ozon’s film By The Grace Of God tells the story of a group of survivors of abuse at the hands of Lyon-based priest, Bernard Preyant. Ozon worked in secret with several members of a survivor’s group that has gathered testimony of dozens of people who claim to have been abused by Preynat in Lyon.

Preynat is to be tried on sexual violence charges involving ten children. The allegations came out after a former scout, Francois Devaux went public in 2015 with allegations that the priest had abused him as a child 25 years earlier.

Preynat was suspended by the church later in 2015, and it later emerged that Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, the archbishop of Lyon, had confronted him about the allegations five years earlier, and later went to the Vatican, but never contacted law enforcement authorities.

Barbarin and five other church officials and members are waiting for a verdict on charges of covering up the abuse and failing to protect children.