Despite Protests, French Roman Polanski Retrospective Will Go On As Planned

Cinémathèque Française will host a retrospective of the work of
Roman Polanski, despite protests and a petition against it,
with an opening to be attended by the director on Monday night.

The Guardian reports that feminist groups
in France have opposed the event to no avail; the show will go
on. The petition against the
retrospective is particularly suspicious of Cinémathèque
Française’s timing in regards to the scandal around allegedly
predatory men in film, such as Harvey Weinstein:

“It’s an affront to all rape victims, and particularly
Polanski’s victims,” it reads. “Polanski deserves dishonour,
not honours.”

By the weekend, the petition had garnered over 20,000
signatures, but the theatre maintains that it will not
pass judgement on the accusations (and an actual conviction!)
against Polanski. The owner, Greek-French director
Costa-Gavras, has stated that they do not wish to “take the
place of the justice system,” the one which did, in fact, find
Polanski guilty of rape:

“True to its values and independent tradition, the
Cinémathèque does not see itself as a substitute for the
law,” Costa-Gavras said in a statement.

“We don’t give out prizes or certificates for good behaviour.
Our ambition is different: to show the complete work of
film-makers and to place them in the permanent history of the
Cinémathèque.”

Polanski has long been running from fulfilling his sentence for
drugging and raping Samantha Geimer when she was 13 years old.
Geimer has also campaigned to allow Polanski unfettered
access to the United States. But she isn’t the only minor who
has said Polanski assaulted her. A former actress named Renate
Langer claims he raped her when she was 15 in his
house in Germany. Artist Marianne Barnard has alleged that Polanski molested her when she
was ten, during a beach photo shoot.

Laure Salmona, who launched the petition agains Polanski’s
retrospective, told the Guardian that
support from artistic institutions minimizes sexual violence:

“A great film-maker perhaps, but also a big criminal … what
message is the French Cinémathèque sending by announcing this
retrospective? That crimes are, when all is said and done,
diluted by fame and that rape is of little importance if
committed by a talented man? How many more victims do there
have to be for the film industry to realise that it cannot
continue praising a paedophile to the skies?”

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