Roman Polanski will not attend the Cesar Awards – the French equivalent to the Oscars – as he says he fears a “public lynching” over a new sex assault claim against him.
Polansky leads the nominations, with his latest film, An Officer And A Spy, up for 12 awards.
However, the success of the movie has led to a backlash due to historic allegations of sexual assault levelled against the 86-year-old director.
Last year, a French actress accused him of raping her in 1975 when she was 18 years old, during a ski holiday in Gstaad, Switzerland.
Polanski has denied the accusation.
The French-Polish director also fled the United States after pleading guilty in 1977 to having unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl in Los Angeles.
Polanski put out a statement to the Associated Press, saying: “Activists are already threatening me with a public lynching”.
Women’s rights activists have called for a boycott of the ceremony and put anti-Polanski banners and graffiti at the venue and the Cesar academy headquarters.
Addressing the accusations in the statement, Polanski said: “Fantasies of unhealthy minds are now treated as proven facts.
“We know ahead of time how this evening will play out”.
He added that he had made the decision not to attend to protect his staff and family.
Earlier this month, the entire Cesar board resigned en masse after weeks of controversy over Polanski’s film.
The largely-male board of academy directors said the unanimous decision was made in a bid to “honour those who made films in 2019, to regain serenity and make the cinema festival a celebration”.
Polanski was expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2018.
An Officer And A Spy is based on the 19th-century political scandal the Dreyfus affair, which rocked France after Jewish French officer Alfred Dreyfus was falsely accused of spying for Germany.
The film stars a French cast which includes Oscar-winner Jean Dujardin and actress Emmanuelle Seigner, who is married to Polanski.
In his statement, Polanski, who survived the Holocaust in Poland as a child, also drew parallels between the theme of anti-Semitism in the film and its treatment.
He said this years’ awards “have no place for a film whose subject is defending truth and fighting injustice, blind hate and anti-Semitism.”
This news follows the conviction of Harvey Weinstein for sexual assault and rape, which marked a milestone for the #MeToo movement.
Polanski has previously pointed the finger at Weinstein for whipping up negative publicity about him in a bid to prevent his 2003 film The Pianist winning an Oscar.
The Cesar Awards take place in Paris on 28 February.