Actress strips naked at the French Oscars to protest Covid arts support

French actress Corinne Masiero made a statement during the country’s prestigious César Awards, demanding support for the country’s struggling arts industry. Adverse effects of the Covid-19 pandemic have hit the sector very hard. 

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The 57-year-old took to the stage wearing a fake donkey skin over a blood-stained dress to present the best costume award before fully undressing. “No culture no future” was written on her torso, and  “give us our art back” on her back. 

The protest was a direct message to Jean Castex, the French Prime Minister. Most theatres and cinemas have remained closed since October 30. Several protests have also taken place across the country demanding the reopening of cultural places provided they adhere to health rules. The mood at the Oscars was set right at the start when Marina Fois, the mistress of ceremonies, also voiced her displeasure to Culture Minister Roselyne Bachelot. 

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In support of the sector, the government has invested over 20 million euros to cushion the cultural industry which is one of the hardest hit by Covid-19, a move that many feel is not enough. Other celebrities who attended the César ceremony took direct aim at the restrictions. Stephane Demoustier, a director and producer, referred to the situation as “incomprehensible” pointing out how her children can visit fashion stores but not visit the cinema. By end of Saturday, the death toll across France had shot past 90,315. This was according to official figures from the French public health agency. The government continuously raised an alarm over the rising pressure exerted on the hospitals across Paris. 

Frustrations have reached a fever pitch over the shutting down of cultural sites. Many students and activists have voiced their displeasure. This year’s ceremony was still reeling over the controversy of last year’s disastrous awarding of Roman Polanski, the award-winning veteran polish director accused of multiple sexual assaults including raping a 13-year-old girl. This prompted several stars to walk out and police to teargas angry protestors outside. The board at Cesar academy resigned after the nomination of Polanski's "An Officer and a Spy" film. 

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2021 awards

This year’s award ceremony was a fine display of the academy’s embrace of greater ethnic diversity. For instance, the most promising actor and actress awards were clinched by Jean-Pascal Zadi for his role in “Tout simplement noir" and 14-year-old Fathia Youssouf for her role in the controversial “Mignonnes.”

The night’s biggest winner was "Bye Bye Morons"  a comedic drama about a seriously ill woman looking for her missing child. It bagged an impressive seven awards, among them ‘best film’ and ‘best director’. "Another Round"  starring Mads Mikkelsen, took the foreign film award. Hardly any controversy marked this year’s awarding ceremony. Given last year’s drama, the academy jas been reconstituted with a new board led by Veronique Cayla, who previously headed the cultural channel Arte.