César president, Alain Terzian, confirmed the plans to newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche. Currently, just 35% of the Academy members are women.
Mr Terzian, who has been president since 2003, said: “We should have woken up to this sooner. We should show by example, and this will have [positive] repercussions across all of French cinema.”
He explained: “Today, of the 4,680 members of the Academy...we have 65% men and 35% women. This is anachronistic in our society. We are therefore going to impose a cultural revolution to achieve equality; a real 50/50.
“We are going to open the voting college hugely, to 700 or 800 women.”
The plans are set to be confirmed this spring, by an independent panel, he said.
Mr Terzian said the 50/50 split would ideally apply to “all levels”. He said: “By the end of 2020, we will see that [equality] is respected at the council administration level. To achieve it without excluding anyone, we will enable 10 to 12 qualified women to join.”
The president also commented on the controversy surrounding director Roman Polanski, whose film J’accuse is leading the César nominations list ahead of this year’s 45th annual ceremony on February 28, despite further accusations of alleged rape.
Mr Terzian said: “If there are as many women as men who can vote [in the Academy], that may change the nominations and the winners.”
The César awards are presented by the Académie des Arts et Techniques du Cinéma - to use the “Academy’s” full title - across 22 main categories. To win “a César” is the highest film honour in France. The name comes from the sculptor César Baldaccini, who designed the golden trophy (below).
More Academy gender controversy
The statements from Mr Terzian came on the same day of the US Academy Awards (popularly known as the “Oscars”) ceremony - held on Sunday, February 10 - which has itself been criticised for having no women nominees in its 2020 Best Director category, despite several eligible films having female directors.
Natalie Portman - known for her roles in Star Wars, Closer, V for Vendetta and Black Swan - even wore a black gown embroidered with the surnames of the women who some believed should have been nominated in the category (see the video, above).
These included Lorene Scafaria (who directed Hustlers), Lulu Wang (The Farewell), Greta Gerwig (Little Women), Marielle Heller (A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood) and Melina Matsoukas (Queen & Slim).
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