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.
The entirety of the evening was punctuated with nods at both Polanski and the current state of France's film academy whose board is resigning amid criticism from the voting body.
This is not the first time the César awards have faced controversy because of Polanski.
Polanski made a decision to skip the Cesar awards ceremony because of earlier protests by women's groups denouncing the 12 nominations "An Officer and a Spy" received after a French woman brought a new rape accusation against him.
"Distinguishing Polanski is spitting in the face of all victims", said the actress, who shook the industry previous year by accusing the director of her first film, Christophe Ruggia, of sexually harassing her when she was only 12. "It means raping women isn't that bad", she said.
Polanski fled the U.S.in 1977 to avoid a prison sentence after pleading guilty to raping a 13-year-old girl. 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.
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Outside the venue, hundreds of people had gathered to protest Polanski and the industry that continues to celebrate and protect him.
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".
Les Miserables, Ladj Ly's film about poverty, disadvantage and police violence in Paris, won the award for Best Film.
The movement inspired women to come forward with their accounts of sexual misconduct by powerful men in entertainment, business, media, politics and other fields.
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 anti-Semitism?".