On Saturday, Foresti shared a simple post on Instagram to express her anger: One word, ECOEURÉE, or DISGUSTED, written in white capital letters on a black background.
The announcement of the best director award also prompted Adèle Haenel, who was nominated for best actress for "Portrait of a Lady on Fire", to storm out of the hall, crying "Shame!"
Haenel became a hero of the #MeToo movement in France after she publicly accused the director of her first film, Christophe Ruggia, of sexually harassing her when she was only 12.
After she walked out on Friday night she became the instant hero of the ceremony, with #merciAdèle and #merciAdèlehaenel trending on twitter, along with #CésarDeLaHonte, or #Césarofshame.
Virginie Despentes, a French novelist and feminist posted a photo of Hanael on her Instagram account, writing “Luckily you’re there.”
Other feminist groups also reacted immediately.
Collectif 50/50, a French network of film professionals promoting equality and inclusion, wrote on its twitter account, “To all the women and men who are ashamed of this vote for the best director, we’re waiting for you, join us! # César2020.”
And the group Osez le Feminisme, or Dare to be Feminist, wrote on its Twitter account, “THANK YOU Adèle Hanael, your taking a stand was a consolation after the slap in the face to those fighting sexual violence. We will continue this battle inspired by courageous heroines like yourself, who dare break the omerta.”
“Is it normal for a man to rape and then 30 years later to be a star in popular cultures? No, it's not normal, and a rapist should be in prison," Osez le Feminisme activist Fabienne El Khouri was quoted by AP as saying.
Many on Twitter shared a clip of the actress Blanche Gardin speaking at the 2017 ceremony for the Molière theatre awards. In the clip she takes a jab at the trope, widespread also surrounding the Polanski controversy, dictating that one should distinguish between the art and the artist.
“Funny how this only applies to artists,” Gardin said. “At the bakery, we don’t say about the baker, ‘Yes, it’s true, so he rapes kids, but he makes an extraordinarily good baguette!’”
A few men also spoke up against the choice of best director. The actor Swann Arlaud, who won the César for best supporting actor, also expressed his support for Hanael and others who followed her out of the ceremony. “I find Roman Polanski’s award bizarre and I have a hard time understanding it,” Arlaud said. “I understand Adèle, after having spoken up herself, could not just remain seated and applaud. Clearly she was right to do it,” he added.
And before the awards ceremony, France's Culture Minister Franck Riester said a César would be “symbolically bad given the stance we must take against sexual and sexist violence”.
France appears to be gradually joining the worldwide #MeToo movement, sector by sector, bit by bit.
Haenel’s explosive accusations, which led to the filing of criminal charges against Ruggia, her alleged aggressor, in January, has rattled the film establishment.
The country’s literary world recently woke up after the French publisher, Vanessa Springora, claimed in a new book that the author Gabriel Matzneff had had sexual relations with her when she was 14.
And the world of sports in France is reeling after several figure skaters claimed they were raped or sexually assaulted when they were minors by former coaches. The head of the country’s ice skating federation, Didier Gailhaguet, was forced to resign over the scandal.
Still, the fact that Polanski was awarded the César for best director in 2020 – just days after the Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein was convicted of rape in the US, to the cheers of feminists worldwide – signals that France still has a way to go.