Alain Terzian, the fallen godfather of the Caesars

Alain Terzian on January 29, 2020 at the Fouquet’s restaurant in Paris, during the press conference for the 45th Césars ceremony.
Alain Terzian on January 29, 2020 at the Fouquet’s restaurant in Paris, during the press conference for the 45th Césars ceremony. Nasser Berzane / ABACA

Alain Terzian no longer has an appetite. He did not touch his sauerkraut. Nor to his mille-feuille. This Monday, February 10, he has lunch at Lipp, the historic brewery of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, with François-David Cravenne, the son of Georges, creator of the Césars in 1976, and Christophe Tardieu, former number 2 of the National Center for Cinema and the Animated Image (CNC). The president of the Academy of Caesars, 70, usually so confident, looks overwhelmed.

Since mid-January, Alain Terzian’s world has been cracking on all sides, like an old movie set after a (long) shoot. False steps and bad news accumulate for the producer who until then presided over the Caesars, the only master on board since the “takeover” of the academy in 2003. He is criticized not only for his autocratic and opaque management, but especially not to have taken into account the voices that demand more parity, diversity and democracy within the academy.

While the 45e Césars' ceremony is to take place on Friday, February 28, in the prestigious Salle Pleyel in Paris, with Florence Foresti as mistress of ceremony, Terzian, the proud, the brawler, seems downcast.

The day before, in an interview at Sunday newspaper (February 9), he thought he had saved time by promising measures to feminize and rejuvenate the academy. But this Monday, Terzian no longer knows what to say:

" I'm fed up. I can't do more. That's enough. I bleed myself white. I'm sick of these idiots. All idiots… ”

He makes it clear that he is going to resign, in the mode "hold me or I make a misfortune". His two guests try to reassemble him, put together scenarios to allow the godfather of the Caesars, if not to bounce back, at least to keep his hand, for a few more days: make a speech during the ceremony, ask Foresti to use the case in his sketches, draw on the Canal spirit…

Are the members of the academy accused of being too old? We must sort more and let in only those who have two Caesars to their credit. "Yes, but we're going to have Yolande Moreau …", grumbles Terzian. Leaving the restaurant, François-David Cravenne takes him by the shoulders and says to him: "Get moving, pull yourself together!" " But Terzian always seems to be as closed, discouraged because he feels that there are no more people behind him.

Above all, he does not yet know that his coup de grace is preparing behind the scenes. Tuesday, the day after lunch, Alain Terzian takes full force on a platform signed by 400 film personalities – members of the academy – who denounce a system that they consider opaque and obsolete: "We have no voice in the chapter neither in the functioning of the academy nor in the course of the ceremony", do they lament in The world dated February 12, before claiming "An in-depth overhaul of the Association's modes of governance and of the democratic operations that govern them". Extremely rare: from Omar Sy to Jacques Audiard, including Céline Sciamma, Cédric Klapisch or Bertrand Tavernier, all the families of French cinema have come together to turn the page of Terzian.