Admitted child rapist Roman Polanski is having a tough week because people keep talking about his admitted rape of a child while talking about his new movie.
Say it with me:
Polanski’s latest film, An Officer and a Spy, is set to make its world premiere today at the prestigious Venice International Film Festival. Polanski will not be in attendance at the festival, but provided an interview in the press notes for the film. And it’s drawing ire as the interview attempts to paint the admitted child rapist as a victim of the Me Too movement or—as interviewer Pascal Bruckner put it “present-day neo-feminist McCarthyism.”
Here’s Bruckner’s full question: “As a Jew who was hunted during the war and a filmmaker persecuted by the Stalinists in Poland, will you survive the present-day neo-feminist McCarthyism which, as well as chasing you all over the world and trying to prevent the screening of your films, among other vexations got you expelled from the Oscars Academy?”
Yeah. Bruckner just compared Polanski being hunted by actual murderous Nazis to being protested by feminists who seek for him to face the sentence he fled in the 1970s, and continues to by avoiding the US and any nation with which the country has extradition deals.
Here is Polanski’s response (emphasis ours):
Working, making a film like this helps me a lot. In the story, I sometimes find moments I have experienced myself, I can see the same determination to deny the facts and condemn me for things I have not done. Most of the people who harass me do not know me and know nothing about the case.
The facts of the case were these: On 11 March, 1977, Polanski was arrested for the sexual assault of a 13-year-old girl. The day in question involved a private photoshoot, which involved champagne, quaaludes, and rape, according to the 13-year-old. Polanski would go on to be charged by a grand jury with furnishing a controlled substance to a minor, perversion, sodomy, lewd and lascivious act upon a child under fourteen, rape by use of drugs. In a plea bargain, Polanski pled guilty to a lesser charge of “unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor.” Polanski in his autobiography admits to engaging in sex acts with this child, but claims it was consensual because this child “wasn’t unresponsive.” But when Polanski feared his sentence might be more than a slap on the wrist, he fled the US before final sentencing. So, the charges are still pending. He is still a fugitive.
Meanwhile, in Venice, the Polanski film is drawing more attention to his ‘77 rape charges thanks to umbrage from its producers. In an opening-day press conference, Argentine director and Venice jury president Lucrezia Martel spoke to An Officer and a Spy, noting she did not take issue with its inclusion in the festival, but disagreed with Polanski’s supporters that his criminal record as a rapist should be disregarded when considering the film.
“I do not divide the artists from their works of art,” Martel said, “I think that important aspects about the work of art emerge from the man.” She went onto say that while she would see the in-competition film—which she has to as a member of the jury—she would not attend the film’s gala celebration as she doesn’t wish to “congratulate” Polanski or insult victims of sexual assault.
This did not sit well with An Officer and a Spy’s producers. Luca Barbareschi demanded Martel apologize lest they pull the film from the fest. So, she did, sort of. Martel restated she doesn’t believe in separating the art from the artist, praised the “humanity in Polanski’s previous films” and insisted, “If I had any prejudice [toward the film], I would have resigned my duty as the president of the jury.”
That was enough to soothe Barbareschi and company, so the admitted child rapist and fugitive’s An Officer and a Spy will screen today. However, Polanski will not be in attendance at the premiere or its gala. Probably because Italy has an extradition treaty with the US. So if he went there, he might actually risk being held accountable for the rape of a child he has admitted to on at least two occasions.
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