Laura Woodhouse // 29 September 2009
There’s been some discussion going on here about the Roman Polanski case, so I thought I’d do a fresh post on the subject. For those who haven’t been following the news, film director Roman Polanski was arrested in Switzerland, where he was due to attend a film festival to receive a lifetime achievement award, under an international arrest warrant issued by the US after Polanski fled the country in 1977. He had appeared in court on charges of drugging, raping and sodomising 13-year-old model Samantha Gailey, and pleaded guilty to ‘unlawful sex with a minor’ in exchange for further charges being dropped. Afraid that the judge was going to renege on this promise, he fled to France, and has never returned to the US. You can read Gailey’s full testimony here (trigger warning)*.
So essentially he got away with raping a child and has continued to enjoy international fame and success ever since; you’d think it was pretty clear cut that he deserves to pay for what he did, right? Well apparently there’s a special get out of jail free card if you make great films. Over 70 international film makers have signed a petition demanding Polanski’s immediate release, complaining that the Zurich film festival should not have been used as an excuse to arrest him, and that the poor dude will ‘face heavy consequences’ and lose his freedom should be be extradited. The French government has vowed to lobby the US for his release. Shame on all of them, quite frankly, and I’m sad to have to include one of my favourite directors, Pedro Almodovar, in there.
Amanda Hess has an excellent round-up and refutation of a whole range of arguments made in Polanski’s defence, from the ‘but he didn’t know she was 13!’ to ‘he’s already suffered enough’. Meanwhile, as commenters have already pointed out, the UK press seems incapable of telling the difference between ‘had sex with’ and ‘raped’, so softening the light in which Polanski is portrayed and colluding in this huge international act of rape apologism. It hurts all of us, and I hope to hell he’s brought to justice.
*Thanks to reader maggie for the link.