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Top nominee Polanski to skip French Oscars after rape claim

Top nominee Polanski to skip French Oscars after rape claim
A man walks by the Academie des Cesar headquarters where a graffiti reads "Violanski, Cesar awards of shame", playing with the French word for rape and the name of Roman Polanski, Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020 in Paris. French women's rights activists are plastering banners to protest multiple nominations for Roman Polanski at the Cesar Awards ceremony, France's equivalent of the Oscars. This year's Cesars have been shaken by boycott calls since the nominations for Polanski's "An Officer and a Spy," because a French woman recently accused Polanski of raping her in the 1970s, which he denies. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

PARIS (AP) — Filmmaker Roman Polanski is skipping the awards ceremony for France's equivalent of the Oscars - where his latest movie leads this year's nominations - because of protests prompted by a new rape accusation against him.

Women's rights activists have called for a boycott of Friday's Cesars ceremony in Paris, and plastered anti-Polanski banners and graffiti at the event venue and the Cesar academy headquarters.

The entire male-dominated leadership of the Cesars stepped down recently amid a spat over its byzantine decision-making structure and over how to deal with the Polanski problem.

In a statement Thursday provided to The Associated Press, the Paris-based Polanski said the ceremony was turning into a “public lynching.” Addressing the new accusation against him, he said, “Fantasies of unhealthy minds are now treated as proven facts."

“We know ahead of time how this evening will play out,” Polanski wrote in his statement.

Polanski is still wanted in the United States decades after he was charged with raping a 13-year-old girl in 1977 and then fled.

Last year, a Frenchwoman came forward to accuse Polanski of raping her in 1975. 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 long been revered as one of the country's premier filmmakers despite the outstanding rape charge in the U.S.

Polanski’s “An Officer and a Spy,” which addresses anti-Semitic persecution of French army Capt. Alfred Dreyfus in the 1890s, is up for multiple Cesars on Friday.

Polanski, who survived the Holocaust in Poland as a child, said this years' awards “have no place for a film whose subject is defending truth and fighting injustice, blind hate and anti-Semitism.”

Polanski said he decided not to attend the ceremony to protect his colleagues and his wife and children.

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