Roman Polanski Resigns After Feminist Protesters Threaten To Boycott French Oscars

Meanwhile, a French feminist organization announced plans to protest the César Awards. Polanski moved to France in the '70s after being charged with raping a 13-year-old girl in the U.S. He plead innocent, but then plead guilty to "unlawful sexual intercourse" - which is essentially statutory rape - in a plea bargain. He settled in Paris, where he has been chiefly based ever since.

Backing French feminists, France's minister for women's rights, Laurence Rossignol, expressed surprise and shock at the fact that "a rape case counts for so little in the life of a man".

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. "In order not to disturb the César ceremony, which should be centered on cinema and not on whom it chose to preside over the ceremony, Roman Polanski has decided not to accept the invitation", Hervé Temime, a lawyer for Polanski, said in a statement, according to the Times.

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Polanski is still wanted by authorities in the US for having sex with a minor, in a case dating back to 1977.

But the decision by the French Academy of Cinema Arts and Techniques to honour him at the Cesars infuriated women's groups.

He spends his time between France, Poland, his ancestral homeland, and Switzerland, which have refused to extradite him. He fled the country in February 1978, hours before he was rumored to be sentenced to 50 years in prison.

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The choice of Polanski showed "an indifference with regard to the acts of which he is accused" and "a sort of banalisation of rape", she said.

Polanski, whose hit movies include Rosemary's Baby, Chinatown and The Pianist, has directed several acclaimed movies, but his appointment as president - a largely honorary position requiring him to open the ceremony and speak at the beginning of the telecast - triggered an online petition whose signatories had passed 61,000 by Tuesday morning (January 24th).

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