French actor Adele Haenel stormed out of the theatre when Polanski was announced as the winner for Best Director at the Cesars, the French equivalent of the Oscars.
Haenel, who starred in the internationally acclaimed Portrait of a Lady on Fire was captured on video striding out of the theatre and throwing her arm up in the air in disgust.
She is said to have yelled out “shame” and “bravo, paedophilia” as she walked out.
Haenel has been an active voice in the MeToo movement in France and recently revealed she had been allegedly sexually harassed while working with director Christophe Ruggia from when she was 12 years old until she turned 15.
She has previously expressed her disdain and frustration at what she sees as a lack of momentum and support of the MeToo movement in France.
Prior to the Cesar ceremony, Haenel had condemned Polanski’s inclusion in the nominations. She said: “Distinguishing Polanski is spitting in the face of all victims. It means raping women isn’t that bad.
Polanski won for his Dreyfus Affair historical drama, An Officer and A Spy. He was not present at the ceremony and no one accepted the award on his behalf.
The Polish filmmaker told Agence France Presse earlier in the week: “Activists are threatening me with a public lynching. Some have called for demonstrations, others are planning to make it a platform. This promises to look more like a symposium than a celebration of cinema designed to reward its greatest talents.”
Polanski has been a lightning rod for controversy for decades over his 1977 statutory rape conviction, which led him to flee the United States, settling in France.
More recently, photographer Valentine Monnier accused Polanski of rape in 1975 when she was 18 years old. Polanski denied the charge, and the case was too old investigate.
Polanski’s nominations at this year’s Cesar has opened a bitter rift in the French film industry. The board of the French film academy resigned in the furious aftermath of his nominations.
Women’s groups were outside the Cesar venue in protest with cries of “Lock up Polanski!” heard among the crowd. Police pushed back the surging crowd with tear gas.
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In the lead-up to the awards, France’s culture minister Franck Riester said award Polanski a Cesar would be “symbolically bad given the stance we must take against sexual and sexist violent”.
An Officer and A Spy also won Cesars for Adapted Screenplay and Costume.
The Cesar Awards also attracted criticism from a group of 30 film figures from minority backgrounds who attacked the French industry in an open later published the night before the ceremony in which they protested the stereotypical bit parts for performers from black, North African and Asian origins.
Les Miserables, Ladj Ly’s film about poverty, disadvantage and police violence in Paris, won the award for Best Film.
– with AFP