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Actress Oproud she walked out of French Oscars over Polanski

French actress Noemie Merlant poses with her Prize during the 34th Cabourg Film Festival in Cabourg, Normandy. – AFP

Actress Noemie Merlant has absolutely no regrets about walking out of the French Oscars after Roman Polanski won best director to cap what was perhaps the most bitter and fractious awards ceremony in French cinema history. Merlant followed her Portrait of a Lady on Fire co-star Adele Haenel nd the acclaimed movies director Celine Sciamma, to the exit after Polanski won best film for An Officer and a Spy. Haenel cried Shame! as they left, furious that the Cesars academy had honoured a man still wanted in the US for the statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl in 1977, and who has since had to deny several claims of sexual assault.

Haenela key figure in the French #MeToo movement, who last year revealed that she had been sexually harassed by a director as a teenagerhad declared that distinguishing Polanski is spitting in the face of all victims. I am proud that I left with my comrades, Merlant said of the dramatic night four months ago, which caused an earthquake in the French industry. OIt had to happen I think it is good that it caused a stir, that it started a debate. The world is changing, and going forward, the actress told AFP.

Now we are standing up and we are walking out when things have to change. Its something I think that has to happen, said Merlant, who made her breakthrough playing a woman radicalised by the Islamic State in the 2016 film, Le Ciel Attendra (Heaven Can Wait). Maybe five or 10 years ago, I wouldnt have done it, the actress admitted. But after working with lots of female directors I began to ask myself some quite perturbing questions about womens lives, about what they wanted to say, and their choices. Merlant, 31, said that while the Cesars ceremony was extremely stormy. I feel deep down that it opened up some things, both in the profession and beyond it, even Eamong families and friends.

Younger generation shocked
It is something that people want to talk aboutand even when people dont want to talk about it, that too is interesting, said Merlant, who was nominated for a best actress Cesar with Haenel. As women speak up, it allows you to ask questions about ourselves, the actress said. This is also why so many of this new generation of (women) are shocked and angry about cases like Polanskis.E Having worked with a lot of woman directors, Merlant said she has been lucky to star in so many female-driven stories.

Up to know, I think the women that I played were not objects but the subject, and I want to keep it that way, said the actress, the star of the new French film Jumbo, in which she plays a loner who forms a strange attraction to a fairground ride. I really love to go out of my comfort zone and to take on roles and stories that scare me, that take me somewhere else, said Merlant told AFP in March, before the release of the film was delayed by the French lockdown. – AFP

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