Polanski won two awards at the Cesar awards in Paris on Friday for his film known in English as An Officer and a Spy, and in French as "J'Accuse". Each of the three times that Polanski's Venice Grand Jury Prize victor was awarded a César tonight, there was discomfort in the room.
Among those who left the hall was Adèle Haenel, who a year ago said she had been abused as a child by another director.
Roman Polanski was honored with the best director award at the 2020 Cesar Awards, and the crowd was not happy about it, Variety reports. The Polanski film won best costume designer and best adaptation.
Outside the ceremony, protesters chanted "Lock up Polanski" and had to be deterred by police when they made a move to storm the theatre, France 24 reported.
Polanki's film, a retelling of the Dreyfus affair - a political scandal from late 19th century France - had gained 12 nominations, angering women's rights groups who pledged to disrupt the ceremony.
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"Distinguishing Polanski is spitting in the face of all victims. It means raping women isn't that bad", she said.
As the ceremony unfolded, protesters outside clashed with police as they tried to enter the building.
Polanski fled the U.S.in 1977 to avoid a prison sentence after pleading guilty to raping a 13-year-old girl. "Their word is denied", Celine Piques of women's activist group Osez le Feminisme said.
The French feminist collective, NousToutes, also said in a statement that Polanski's win was "shameful".
Polanski denied it, and the allegations are too old for an investigation, but the accusation put the director under fresh scrutiny in France, where he has always been revered as one of the country's premier filmmakers despite the outstanding rape charge in the US.
It comes in the same week that movie producer Harvey Weinstein was convicted for sexual assault and rape, which marked a milestone for the #MeToo movement.