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Brad Pitt Rejects French Oscars Honour, Roman Polanski Pulls Out

Brad Pitt | Image: FRAZER HARRISON/GETTY IMAGES

American actor Brad Pitt has snubbed the Caesars, dubbed the “French Oscars, by reportedly turning down an honorary Cesar.

For the first time in the history of the Caesars dubbed “French Oscars”, no honorary prize will be awarded to a personality for their entire career. According to Le Parisien, Brad Pitt who had agreed to be honoured this year has retracted.

This year’s Cesars will be awarded on Friday in an uneasy atmosphere as French-Polish film director Roman Polanski, whose new film “An Officer and a Spy” has the highest number of nominations, is staying away from the ceremony over he fears a “public lynching”.

The French film industry and Polanski are at the centre of a storm after the Cesar Academy’s decision to honour the controversial director who is wanted in the United States for the statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl in 1977.

French star Adele Haenel, who is nominated for best actress for “Portrait of a Lady on Fire”, lambasted the Cesar academy earlier this week for showering so many nominations on Polanski’s drama about the Dreyfuss affair, “An Officer and a Spy”.

“Distinguishing Polanski is spitting in the face of all victims,” said the actress, who shook the industry last year by accusing the director of her first film, Christophe Ruggia, of sexually harassing her when she was only 12. “It means raping women isn’t that bad.”

In the furore that followed Polanski’s 12 nominations, the entire board of the Cesars was forced to resign.

Roman Polanski | Image: BEATA ZAWRZEL/NURPHOTO/GETTY IMAGES

With feminist protests planned outside the ceremony, Polanski told AFP that he would stay away because “what place can there be in such deplorable conditions for a film about the defence of truth, the fight for justice, blind hate and anti-Semitism?”

With veteran screen icon and feminist baiter Brigitte Bardot rowing in behind Polanski, other French stars are likely to show their support for Haenel and make a stand against the sexual harassment that has long dogged the industry.

The French press have billed the ceremony as the most dramatic and divisive ever, with Le Figaro daily billing it as “The Cesars of Anguish” and Le Parisien mocking up a film poster for Hitchcock’s “Vertigo”.

The ceremony’s presenter, stand-up comedian Florence Foresti, has already made her feelings clear about Polanski by tripping over the French title of his film, “J’accuse”, on the day the nominations were announced. “I am accused,” she stumbled, before correcting herself.

To make matters worse, on the eve of the awards, 30 cinema figures from minority backgrounds lashed the lip service they claimed the industry plays to inclusion, saying black, North African and Asian-origin performers are mostly confined to stereotypical bit parts in French films.

One of the most outspoken of the signatories, actress Aissa Maiga, is likely to present one of the Cesars, with the Oscar-nominated “Les Miserables” directed by Mali-born Ladj Ly up for 11 awards.

All eyes will also be on Haenel and her former partner Celine Sciamma, who directed the feminist ode “Portrait of a Lady on Fire”, which is up against Polanski’s historical epic and “Les Miserables” for best film.

The acceptance speech of Oscar-winning Jean Dujardin will also be hugely scrutinised if as expected he wins the best actor for his lead role in Polanski’s film.

The publicity campaign for the film was halted last year after another woman, photographer Valentine Monnier, claimed that she had also been raped by the director in 1975.

The 87-year-old Polanski told AFP he was staying away to protect his family and his team from abuse.

“The activists brandish the figure of 12 women who I am supposed to have molested half a century ago,” he said. “These fantasies of sick minds are treated as established fact – a lie repeated 1,000 times becomes a truth.”

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