Roman Polanski to Skip French Awards Show to Avoid 'Public Lynching' Despite Nominations

Amid increasing controversy, Roman Polanski has opted not to attend the upcoming French equivalent of the Academy Awards.

On Friday, the 2020 César Awards ceremony will be held in Paris, but the director, 86 — whose film An Officer and a Spy received the most nominations this year — now says he won’t show up to the event so as to avoid what he called an inevitable “public lynching.”

“We know how this evening will unfold already,” Polanski told the AFP news agency in a statement. “Activists are already threatening me with a public lynching, with some saying they are going to protest outside.”

He added: “What place can there be in such deplorable conditions for a film about the defense of truth, the fight for justice, blind hate and antisemitism?”

The retracted RSVP comes weeks after Polanski’s nominations, including best director, stirred outrage among moviegoers and industry members, and 43 years after the filmmaker fled the U.S. for France, where he has lived in exile ever since.

Polanski pleaded guilty to engaging in unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor in 1977 after 13-year-old Samantha Geimer accused him of getting her drunk and giving her part of a quaalude.

He served 42 days in jail due to a plea bargain, however, he fled to France when ordered to serve the remainder of his 90-day sentence. Attempts by the U.S. to extradite him from Europe have been unsuccessful. The case is still ongoing, despite Geimer’s requests to have it dismissed.

Polanski also faced new allegations of sexual assault in November. A French lawyer for Polanski, Hervé Temime, told Le Parisien in a statement that Polanski “firmly denies all accusations of rape, adding the allegations “which date back 45 years have never been reported to judicial authorities.”

Earlier this week, French actress Adèle Haenel, who is nominated for her romantic drama Portrait of a Lady on Fire, spoke out about Polanski’s 12 nominations, condemning praise on the Oscar winner.

“Distinguishing Polanski is spitting in the face of all victims. It means raping women isn’t that bad,” Haenel, 31, told The New York Times.

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An Officer and a Spy, which stars Oscar-winning The Artist actor Jean Dujardin, is set 1894 and tells the story of a French captain who was wrongfully convicted of treason and faced a life sentence in prison.

Polanski won an Academy Award for Best Director in 2002 for The Pianist, but the disgraced director was removed from the U.S.’s Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences in May 2018 along with Bill Cosby.

At the time of the expulsion, the AMPAS said the decision to remove Polanski from its membership was to “encourage ethical standards that require members to uphold the Academy’s values of respect for human dignity.”

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