The out star of the acclaimed lesbian-themed film Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Adèle Haenel, was the first to quietly storm out of the ceremony for the Césars (the French equivalent of the Oscar) when convicted sexual predator Roman Polanski's name was called to receive the best director award on Friday. Her Portrait director and previous collaborator on Water Lillies, Céline Sciamma followed suit, as did her costar Noemie Merlant. Others soon joined, leading to a sizable exodus.
Haenel (BPM) — who was nominated for best actress at the Césars but who lost to Anaïs Demoustier for Alice and the Mayor — has been particularly outspoken about sexual abuse recently. She detailed her experience with sexual harassment at the hands of her The Devils director Christopher Ruggia that began when she was 12 and continued until she was 15.
Polanski was awarded the prize for directing An Officer and a Spy over Ladj Ly for Les Míserables and over Sciamma, whose story of women in love that constructs a true female gaze has been universally acclaimed.
Polanski, a convicted sexual abuser who's been living in France since fleeing the United States in 1978, who is best known for Rosemary's Baby and Chinatown, was not present at the ceremony at Salle Pleyel, according to IndieWire.
“Activists are threatening me with a public lynching. Some have called for demonstrations, others are planning to make it a platform,” he told Agence France Presse. “This promises to look more like a symposium than a celebration of cinema designed to reward its greatest talents.”