Paris (AFP)

Released last Wednesday in France, the film of Roman Polanski "J'accuse" drains the crowds and should be at the head of the weekly box office, but the indignation does not fall after recent accusations of rape against the director.

The historical thriller of the Franco-Pole on the Dreyfus affair, a major politico-legal scandal against a backdrop of anti-Semitism in the late nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth, arrived at the top of the box office in France on Sunday night over five days , and was approaching the bar of 400,000 entries in 545 theaters, according to CBO Box office figures. A success that should be confirmed with the figures of the week, expected Wednesday at the end of the day.

"I accuse" was awarded the Grand Prix of the jury at the Venice Film Festival (Italy), but it also aroused reservations, especially because Roman Polanski had said repeatedly that he saw in this case an echo to his own story, considering himself "persecuted".

Curiosity after the new accusations? Effect of the debate launched by some on the censorship and the border between the man and the artist? Favorable word of mouth? Paradoxically indeed, these good figures go hand in hand with a controversy that does not go away.

The situation is becoming more and more difficult for Polanski, again in the spotlight for rape charges and, for the first time in his career - glorious in France - subject to sanctions by his peers.

Still pursued by US justice for illegal sex with a 13-year-old girl 40 years ago, repeatedly charged with rape by other women, Polanski was again blamed just before the release of his film, by a French photographer, Valentine Monnier, who claims to have been "beaten" and raped by the director in 1975, when she was 18 years old.

His testimony cracked for the first time his aura in the world of French cinema, regularly suspected of leniency to him.

- Calls to boycott -

"J'accuse" is therefore out in full controversy. The film's promotion plan was completely derailed - main actor Jean Dujardin canceled a television show, a radio show was deprogrammed - and a preview was canceled in Paris due to a blockage by feminists.

A hashtag #BoycottPolanski also appeared on social media, while several personalities said they would not go see the film, such as the Secretary of State for Gender Equality Marlene Schiappa or the spokesperson from the government Sibeth Ndiaye.

A leading organization of filmmakers, the Civil Society of Authors, Directors and Producers (ARP), proposed Monday night new rules for its members convicted or prosecuted for sexual violence, which should lead to the suspension of the director.

Wednesday, a community grouping nine municipalities of Seine-Saint-Denis, a department of Paris region, finally gave up, after an outcry, to ask the deprogramming of the film.

"I maintain the programming of + J'accuse + by asking that there be debates which accompany the diffusion of the film", declared the socialist president of the collectivity, Gérard Cosme, while recalling that "in a personal capacity", he called not to go see the movie.

After his request for deprogramming, directors of the six cinemas concerned denounced "censorship", and Polanski's lawyer, Hervé Temime, said he was "stunned".

But indignation is far from being extinguished.

Illustrating the differences in perception between France and the United States, where Mr. Polanski has never returned for more than 40 years to avoid being arrested, the success of "J'accuse" in France has outraged the founder of "Women and Hollywood", a site advocating for greater representation of women in the film industry.

"The film of Roman Polanski at the head of the box office ... What is this brothel, France?", Tweeted Monday Melissa Silverstein, founder of the site.

burs-cf / lv / mba

© 2019 AFP