Award-winning Polish-French director Roman Polanski has decided not to preside over the César film awards in France after an outcry by feminists.
Feminist groups have collected over 60,000 signatures on a petition calling for Polanski to be prevented from performing the prestigious role next month at the César awards, which are known as the “French Oscars”.
The director, now 83, fled the US in February 1978, shortly before being sentenced for unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl. He settled in Paris, where he has been chiefly based ever since.
A lawyer representing the director said on Tuesday in a statement that the outcry was unwarranted, adding that the controversy had “deeply saddened” Polanski and affected his family.
French Minister for Women’s Rights Laurence Rossignol had expressed concern at the “shocking” selection of Polanski.
During his long career, Polanski has received six Oscar nominations, two BAFTAs, four Césars, a Golden Globe Award and the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in France.