Roman Polanski’s new film “An Officer and a Spy” topped the list of nominations on Wednesday for the so-called “French Oscars,” sparking controversy.
His period drama about the anti-Semitic Dreyfus affair, which rocked France in the late 19th century, is in line for 12 Cesars, the most prestigious awards in French cinema.
The nominations come as the Polish-born director is embroiled in fresh allegations of rape.
But the head of the French film academy Alain Terzian said it “should not take moral positions” about giving awards.
The academy's decision was slammed by feminists.
"Haven't we learned anything from the #MeToo Movement?" wondered women's group Osez le feminisme (Dare to be a Feminist) on Twitter.
“If rape was an art, give all the Cesars to Polanski,” the group said.
Gender Equality Minister Marlene Schiappa also criticised the nominations.
“Clearly the French film industry has a way to go when it comes to sexist and sexual violence,” she told French radio.
“I don’t think they respect women and particularly victims who have spoken out.”
Culture Minister Franck Riester commented the academy was “free to make its choices but added that he would continue to defend “creative freedom with the same determination with which I daily combat all forms of sexist and sexual violence.”
What is Polanski accused of?
Last year, French photographer and former actress Valentine Monnier accused Polanski of beating her and raping her in 1975 when she was 18.
She said that she could not file an official complaint anymore but felt compelled to come forward with her story because the movie “An Officer and a Spy” dealt with a miscarriage of justice.
Polanski has been living in self-imposed exile in France since 1978 when he fled the US before he could be sentenced after pleading guilty to unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor.
Since then, he has been accused of sexual misconduct several times, allegations he had always denied.