FPI / September 8, 2019
Roman Polanski, the director who is still loved by Hollywood’s elite despite his admission of being a child rapist, was awarded the Grand Jury Prize at the Venice International Film Festival for his film “An Officer and a Spy”, which is based on a book about a wrongfully accused man.
Polanski fled the United States in 1978 after admitting to raping a 13-year-old girl in 1977, when he was 43. He remains a fugitive from the U.S. criminal justice system.
“An Officer and a Spy” is based on a 2013 book about the Dreyfus Affair and tells the story of a French military officer who discovers that a Jewish officer in the French military was convicted of spying for Germany based on false evidence, resulting in a life of imprisonment.
Polanski did not attend the festival to accept the award as “he is a convicted sex offender who cannot travel much for fear of being sent back to America, where he would face punishment for a crime to which he pled guilty,” Jezebel columnist Emily Alford noted.
“And that inability to partake in international parties provided just the insight Polanski needed to empathize with the unjustly accused Alfred Dreyfus.”
Polanski said in a recent interview: “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….My work is not therapy. However, I must admit that I am familiar with many of the workings of the apparatus of persecution shown in the film, and that has clearly inspired me.”
Alford noted that “It’s easy to see how Polanski might find those parallels. Since his conviction, Polanski has been persecuted with an Oscar, two Golden Globes, and the Cannes Palme d’Or, which is exactly like the story he tells in his film except that Alfred Dreyfus didn’t do it, had to go to prison after he was convicted, and wasn’t given a wheelbarrow full of awards by people who never gave a shit about the crime he was accused of in the first place.”
Polanski won the 2003 Oscar for Best Director for “The Pianist”. The convicted pedophile received a standing ovation from the audience including such notables as Meryl Streep who claim to support victims of sexual abuse.
The 86-year-old Polanski did not go to Venice to accept the award, as he may have been arrested, extradited back to the U.S. and jailed for his rape conviction.
“The criminal's precaution over not attending the Venice festival may stem from a similar situation he found himself in 2009 when he was arrested by Swiss officials for going to the Zurich Film Festival,” The Daily Mail noted in a Sept. 8 report.
After his 2009 arrest, a group of Hollywood stars and Harvey Weinstein, who 80 women have accused of sexual assault, started a petition demanding Polanski's immediate release. Woody Allen was among those who signed the petition.
Polanski was expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (home of the Oscars) in 2018.
“The straight line from what Polanski was allowed to get away with and, years later, what the likes of Weinstein thought they were allowed to do cannot be ignored,” columnist Barbara Ellen wrote for the Observer at the time of Polanski’s Oscars expulsion.
“Those who gave Polanski any sympathy or support over his “persecution” should probably also congratulate themselves on helping to embolden predatory entitled characters such as Weinstein. So, bravo to the Academy for belatedly crying “cut” on Polanski. As for his numerous apologists, perhaps we could rustle up a slow handclap from the stalls,” Ellen added.
In press notes for “ An Officer and a Spy”, Polanski “appeared to agree with the interviewer, the philosopher Pascal Bruckner, that he was nothing less than a victim of ‘neo-feminist McCarthyism’ – dismissing allegations of underage sexual abuse made against by him by several women,” Ellen wrote in a Sept. 1 column.
Polanski said in the interview: “Most of the people who harass me do not know me and know nothing of the case.”
Ellen wrote: “I’d say it was common knowledge that he drugged and sodomized 13-year-old Samantha Gailey in a whirlpool bath at Jack Nicholson’s house. And that he scarpered from the U.S. to avoid serving his rightful jail time. It’s also well known how feted he has since been, including that rapturous applause when he won the best director Oscar for 2002’s The Pianist.
“As much as anyone could get away with a serious sexual crime, Polanski has. Yet still he seems to view himself as a victim of a global hounding by a society that simply doesn’t understand the creative soul. In truth, he is a convicted child rapist who evaded full justice, and that’s why he can’t return to the U.S.”
Ellen concluded of Polanski: “It ill behooves either him or Bruckner to try to frame this as evidence of a vindictive philistine world. It remains a stain on those who still work with him, the standard, rather grotty argument being that a genius film director is different to a regular child rapist. With all that’s passed in recent years, it says it all that he doesn’t even bother to fake penitence. It’s still all about him and how maligned he’s been.”
Free Press International