César film awards to ban nominees being investigated for sexual violence

Actor Sofiane Bennacer will be excluded from the ceremony following the rule change  (Getty Images)
Actor Sofiane Bennacer will be excluded from the ceremony following the rule change (Getty Images)

Organisers of the César film awards have announced that they will ban any nominees who are being investigated for sexual assault from attending the show.

The prestigious awards show, which is scheduled to be held on 25 February, is known as France’s version of the Oscars.

This decision means that actor Sofiane Bennacer, who is being investigated by police on two allegations of rape and one of violence, will be excluded from the ceremony.

Bennacer, 25, who denies any wrongdoing, had been seen as an awards frontrunner for his part in Les Amandiers (Forever Young) about a sexually promiscuous group of drama students in the 1980s.

The rule change also applies to anyone who has been convicted of such an offence in the past.

“Out of respect for the victims... it has been decided not to highlight people who may have been implicated by the judiciary in acts of violence,” the awards ceremony said in a statement, noting that this included “presumed” victims in cases under investigation.

The Academy is yet to vote on whether to make a permanent change to eligibility criteria.

In 2017, controversial director Roman Polanski stepped down from presiding over the César awards, after 61,000 people signed a petition calling on the public to boycott the event.

The 83-year-old, who lives in Paris, is wanted in the US over a historic child sex conviction.

He pleaded guilty to having sex with a 13-year-old girl in 1977 and served 42 days in prison after accepting a plea bargain. Polanski fled the US for Britain and then France a year later over fears the judge hearing his case could overrule the plea bargain and he could be imprisoned again.

The César Academy said it was still debating whether people with sexual misconduct allegations and convictions should be banned entirely from future nominations and awards, with a decision due in the coming weeks.