At the Césars, the irruption of reality behind the magic of cinema


Friday February 28, 2020. The image remains engraved. Adèle Haenel and Céline Sciamma leaving the Césars ceremony to the cry of: “Shame! It’s shame ! » The object of their anger? The list of winners that year included only men, including, for the César for best director, a Roman Polanski implicated for rape of minors, and who, three years earlier, faced with the bronca of feminist activists , had to refuse the place of president of the ceremony.

This Friday, February 23, is this time the shock wave caused by the complaints filed against Gérard Depardieu, and, on February 6, by those filed by Judith Godrèche against the directors Benoît Jacquot and Jacques Doillon for “rape with violence against minor under 15 years”, which casts the shadow of storms over the Olympia, in Paris, where the 49th Caesars are held. And in front of which, a rally against sexual and gender-based violence, launched by the CGT-Spectacle, is already planned from 7 p.m.

Saving for some – celebrating the first blow to an establishment deemed autocratic and outdated -, sacrilege for others who saw it as a spit on the common house, the famous anarchist and furious “let’s get out” of Adèle Haenel seemed, four years ago, to sound the death knell of an event which , since 1975, has celebrated the magic of the 7th art in a mixture of good-natured irony, celebrity humor and advertising marketing. The boat was already rocking. A few weeks earlier, after a column in Le Monde had called for more democracy within the Académie des César, the president, producer Alain Terzian, and his team had not decided to announce their resignation, “so that the cinema festival remains a celebration” ?

But the party no longer had the same taste. The irruption of reality now had a rein on its neck. In 2021, Jean-Pascal Zadi, receiving his César for Most Promising Actor for Tout simply noir , denounces, citing Frantz Fanon, the chlordecone scandal; in 2022, Corinne Masiero shows up, without warning, half naked with sanitary tampons as earrings; in 2023, Canal+ cuts the broadcast while a climate activist is evacuated… Le Figaro headlines: “César, last chance for survival” . Audiences plunge. Some are wondering if the channel is not going to throw in the towel.

“A scent of rebirth”

Today, director Alain Guiraudie sums up quite simply, in his lilting accent, the state of affairs: “I don’t care about the Césars, I don’t even pay my dues anymore. I became interested in it when I was nominated [eight times in 2014 for L’Inconnu du lac ] and it really pissed me off. »

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