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France’s César film awards ban nominees under investigation for sexual violence from ceremony

<i>Stephane Cardinale/Corbis/Getty Images</i><br/>Last year's César awardees pose for a picture at the 47th César Film Awards Ceremony at L'Olympia in Paris
Corbis via Getty Images
Stephane Cardinale/Corbis/Getty Images
Last year's César awardees pose for a picture at the 47th César Film Awards Ceremony at L'Olympia in Paris

By Saskya Vandoorne and Marguerite Lacroix, CNN

France’s equivalent of the Oscars — the Césars ​– says it is banning anyone currently under investigation for acts of violence, “especially those of a sexual nature,” from attending its awards ceremony next month “out of respect for any possible victims.”

The ban, announced Monday, also impacts people who have been convicted of acts of violence.

The César Academy’s decision doesn’t prevent actors, producers, or directors subject to the ban from being nominated for or receiving awards, but they won’t be invited to the ceremony and if they win, no speech will be given on their behalf.

The new rules mean 25-year-old French actor Sofiane Bennacer will be banned from the 2023 César awards.

CNN affiliate BFMTV, citing the Mulhouse public prosecutor’s office, reports that Bennacer is being investigated for rape and violence against several former girlfriends.

Bennacer, who had been shortlisted in the best newcomer category for his role in “Les Amandiers,” was dropped from the long list of nominees in November. That same day he took to Instagram to deny the accusations against him.

“Does the presumption of innocence still exist? Or are we in a state of lawlessness, a state where the mere unfounded accusation can destroy a life?” Bennacer wrote. His attorney didn’t provide any comment.

A spokesman for the academy told CNN that Bennacer’s case had played a role in their decision making.

“Of course it accelerated things and we don’t really want to go through things like we did two or three years ago, the Polanski affair, etc,” the spokesman said.

In 2020, the César awards ceremony was thrown into turmoil after director Roman Polanski won top awards, prompting walkouts from actresses and protests outside the venue.

The Franco-Polish director’s film, “An Officer and a Spy,” captured the awards for best director, best costume and best adapted screenplay, deeply controversial choices for the French film industry in the #MeToo era.

Polanski, who was absent from the ceremony, pleaded guilty to having sex with a 13-year-old girl in the US in 1977 but fled before sentencing. He has been a fugitive from justice ever since.

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