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Refresh for latest: The 45th annual César Awards, France’s equivalent to the Oscars, are getting underway in Paris this evening under tumultuous conditions. The leading nominated film is Roman Polanski’s An Officer And A Spy with 12 mentions, but the controversial director will not be in attendance, nor will anyone from the Dreyfus Affair drama. This follows an outcry by women’s groups who gathered this evening to protest outside the Salle Pleyel where the ceremony is taking place.

Polanski on Thursday said he would not attend the local industry’s biggest night. “Activists are threatening me with a public lynching. Some have called for demonstrations, others are planning to make it a platform,” he said. “This promises to look more like a symposium than a celebration of cinema designed to reward its greatest talents,” the Oscar winner told AFP.

Today, An Officer And A Spy producer Alain Goldman told AFP he and the film’s team had decided not to atttend amid “an escalation of inappropriate and violent language and behavior.” Star Jean Dujardin on Instagram posted a photo from the film (whose French title is J’Accuse, a term adopted by protesters against Polanski) and wrote, “I’d just like to remind that J’Accuse is the title of a very famous article by Emile Zola, I hope that doesn’t bother anyone? Have a good night!”

The Académie des Arts et Techniques du Cinéma is itself in upheaval with the board of its management, the Association for the Promotion of Cinema, having recently announced its intention to resign en masse. That follows upset within the voting membership which has complained of an “elitist and closed” system in which they have “no voice.” A revamp of the Académie is due to begin soon with Amour producer Margaret Menegoz recently named its interim president.

The rest of the evenings nominees include such titles as Ladj Ly’s Oscar nominated Les Misérables, Nicolas Bedos’ La Belle Epoque and Céline Sciamma’s Portrait Of A Lady On Fire. The latter includes a Best Actress mention for Adèle Haenel who has made headlines for accusing French director Christophe Ruggia of sexually harassing her from the age of 12, and has been outspoken with regard to the nominations for Polanski.

We will be following the proceedings as they unfold, so check back for updates and the full list of winners.

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