Actor Adele Haenel Shouts 'Bravo Pedophilia' After Roman Polanski Wins Cesar Award

A conspicuous protest saw a number of women walk out of France's most prestigious film awards ceremony when Roman Polanski, who has been convicted of statutary rape of a 13-year-old girl, was given the best director award. 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."

The Polish-French director was not at the ceremony due to fears for his safety as controversy had been building after his nomination, which led to the board of the French film academy to resign.

Polanski protest
Activists holding anti Polanski signs gather next to the Cesar Fouquet's dinner to protest against the nominations of Roman Polanski's film 'An officer and a spy' on February 28, 2020 in Paris, France. Women in the audience at the awards walked out in protest. Stephane Cardinale/Getty Images

Polanski fled the United States after he was convicted of statutory rape in 1977. He also faces other accusations of sexual assault, including by Valentine Monnier, who told the French newspaper Le Parisien that she was raped by the director in 1975 when she was 18, which Polanski has denied.

His latest film tells the story of the Dreyfus affair, which divided France at the end of the 19th century, when a Jewish army officer was wrongly prosecuted for spying.

Polanski won the prize for best adapted screenplay. When he was named best director, the actor Adele Haenel, who starred in the film Portrait of a Lady on Fire, stood up and walked out, shouting the word "shame." Other women also left the auditorium in protest.

“bravo la pédophilie” - adele haenel after walking out of the cesars#merciadelehaenel pic.twitter.com/0Iz1iMQgyb

— angel (@dykesinfilm) February 29, 2020

Video of her was tweeted in which she is walking out of the venue, the Salle Pleyel, clapping sarcastically and shouting, "Bravo, pedophilia, Bravo!"

Her actions were praised on social media, with Heidi Moore tweeting, "Today's brilliant act of female rebellion: Director Adele Hanael walking through France's Cesar Awards clapping sarcastically, 'Bravo, pedophilia, Bravo!' about Roman Polanski's win."

Another tweeted, "These women are heroes! They have my utmost respect and love for standing up, for voicing their (and our) anger and frustration!"

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.

Ahead of the event, the country's culture minister Franck Riester warned that awarding Polanski a Cesar would be "symbolically bad given the stance we must take against sexual and sexist violence".

Before the awards, the 86-year-old Polanski said in a statement to Agence France-Presse: "Activists are already threatening me with a public lynching, with some saying they are going to protest outside."

"What place can there be in such deplorable conditions for a film about the defense of truth, the fight for justice, blind hate and antisemitism?"