Actresses walk out of award ceremony after Roman Polanski wins best director

Roman Polanski's win caused Adèle Hanel to leave the ceremony.
Roman Polanski's win caused Adèle Hanel to leave the ceremony. Photo credit: Getty.

Filmmaker Roman Polanski has won the best director award at the Césars for his film J'accuse amid protests.

The win in Paris on Friday night caused several actresses to walk out of the ceremony.

The controversial director was convicted with the statutory rape of a 13-year-old in 1978. He fled the United States while awaiting sentencing and has not returned to the country. 

The César awards, according to BBC, is France's "equivalent of the Oscars". 

Polanski won three awards and did not attend the ceremony as he feared for his safety. 

"We know how this evening will unfold already," Polanski told the Agence France-Presse.

"Activists are already threatening me with a public lynching, with some saying they are going to protest outside.

"What place can there be in such deplorable conditions for a film about the defence of truth, the fight for justice, blind hate and antisemitism?" 

Among the actresses to walk out was nominee and member of the #MeToo movement, Adèle Haenel, from Portrait of a Lady on Fire.

Haenel accused French director Christophe Ruggia of sexually harassing her when she was 12 and has been an active voice in the movement.

She told the New York Times that distinguishing Polanski is "spitting in the face of all victims".  

"There is a #MeToo paradox in France: it is one of the countries where the movement was the most closely followed on social media, but from a political perspective and in cultural spheres, France has completely missed the boat," she continued.

France's culture minister earlier also said on Friday that awarding Polanski would send the wrong signal.