Protesters have disrupted the opening of a retrospective of Roman Polanski’s work in Paris following new rape allegations against the French-Polish film director. Some 80 protesters outside the Cinematheque Française, which is showcasing Polanski’s films next month, banged on windows and carried posters with slogans such as, “If rape is an art, give Polanski all the (French movie award) Cesars”. Two members of the Femen group briefly exposed their breasts and shouted “no honours for rapists” in the presence of Polanski before security pushed them outside. Polanski, who had entered the building through a back entrance, was set to present his new movie “Based on a True Story” at the event.
Earlier this month, Swiss prosecutors said former German actress and model Renate Langer had told authorities that Polanski raped her at his mountain chalet in 1972 when she was 15 years old. Langer is one of four women who have publicly accused Polanski, 84, of sexually assaulting them when they were teenagers. The allegations predate the Hollywood film mogul Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment scandal. Polanski, director of classic films like Rosemary’s Baby, The Pianist and Carnage, has fled US sentencing in 1978 for unlawful sex with 13-year-old Samantha Geimer in Los Angeles in 1977 in a case where he pleaded guilty at the time.
“Polanski has no place in an homage organised by a public cultural institution in France. He should be in a US court of justice,” Raphaelle Remy-Leleu, spokeswoman for feminist group “Osez le féminisme” said on French CNews television. She said the Cinematheque Française was “spitting in the face of victims of male aggression” and complicit to the impunity of the aggressors.
The Cinematheque said in a statement to French media that the organization is honoring Polanski’s work and wants to steer clear of the legal case against him. French Culture Minister Francoise Nyssen has also defended the Polanski retrospective. “This is about his life’s work, not about the man,” she said on radio France Inter on Friday. In a statement to Reuters last week, Polanski’s lawyer reiterated that Polanski has acknowledged having had a sexual relationship with Geimer, and repeated that he strongly denies all other allegations against him as totally baseless.
In 2009, Swiss authorities arrested Polanski on his arrival in Zurich to receive a lifetime achievement award at a film festival. Two months later, he was released on bail and put under house arrest in his Gstaad chalet. In July 2010, he was released from house arrest after authorities decided against extradition because of potential technical faults in the US request and because he had for years come to Switzerland in good faith. – Reuters