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At Cesar Awards, host hurls barbs at France's COVID-19 strategy

Marina Fois, one of France's best known comedians, took aim at the government's months-long closure of theatres and cinemas during the coronavirus pandemic in a searing speech to open a scaled-back Cesar Awards ceremony.

PARIS: Marina Fois, one of France's best known comedians, took aim at the government's months-long closure of theatres and cinemas during the coronavirus pandemic in a searing speech to open a scaled-back Cesar Awards ceremony.

France's answer to the Oscars, the ceremony is in normal times the biggest night on the French cinema calendar but on Friday there were no flashbulbs on the red carpet and no partners on the arms of award nominees.

The ceremony took place as anger and frustration grows amongst actors, musicians and artists at the government's unwillingness to set a date for the reopening of museums, galleries, concert halls and movie houses.

Fois, who hosted the night, took a swipe at Culture Minister Roselyne Bachelot for finding time to write a book during the COVID-19 crisis and said: "I'm losing confidence in you."

Nor did she hold back from attacking the French government's broader strategy to counter the COVID-19 crisis, as cases in the country topped 4 million.

"They cooped up our youngsters, closed our cinemas and theatres and banned concerts so that they could open churches, because we're a secular country, so that old people could go to church," she said. The majority of French people are Roman Catholic.

Across the capital, several dozen protesters were occupying the Odeon Theatre for an eighth night demanding cultural venues be reopened and more financial support.

French cinema had hoped to put a torrid year behind it.

At last year's event, held two weeks before the country went into lockdown, a number of leading actresses walked out after the French-Polish director Roman Polanski, who faces rape accusations, won best director for "An Officer and a Spy".

(Reporting by Richard Lough; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)

Source: Reuters

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