Polanski’s Swiss arrest!


LIFE DRAMATIC: Director Roman Polanski’s life sometimes resembles the plot of his movies.

Zurich: Director Roman Polanski, whose turbulent life has on occasion come close to resembling the violent, perverse world of his movies, was arrested in Zurich on a 1978 US arrest warrant for sex with a 13-year-old.

Polanski, 76, had been due to receive a prize for his life’s work at the Zurich Film Festival on Sunday evening, opening a retrospective of his distinguished film career, but was arrested after arriving in Switzerland on Saturday night.

Calling Polanski, who won Best Director Oscar for The Pianist in 2003, one of the greatest film directors of our time, festival organisers said they had “received this news with great consternation and shock”.

French Culture Minister Frederic Mitterrand was “stunned” to hear about Polanski’s arrest, his office said, adding President Nicolas Sarkozy was following the case and hoped the matter could be resolved, allowing Polanski to return to his family.

“We are going to try to lift the arrest warrant in Zurich … the (extradition) convention between Switzerland and the United States is not very clear,” Polanski’s lawyer, Georges Kiejman, told France Info radio.

Zurich Cantonal Police spokesman Stefan Oberlin said the arrest of Polanski, who holds French citizenship, was carried out on instruction from the Federal Justice Department in Berne.

Polanski was arrested in the United States in the late 1970s and charged with giving drugs and alcohol to a 13-year-old girl and having unlawful sex with her at a photographic shoot at actor Jack Nicholson’s Hollywood home.

Maintaining the girl was sexually experienced and had consented, Polanski spent 42 days in prison undergoing psychiatric tests but fled the country before being sentenced.

Considered by US authorities as a fugitive from justice, Polanski, whose films include Rosemary’s Baby and Chinatown, has lived in France, avoiding countries that have extradition treaties with the United States.

“Both the extradition arrest warrant and any extradition decision can be challenged in the Federal Penal Court,” the Swiss Federal Justice Department said, adding these decisions could in turn be taken further to Switzerland’s Federal Court of Justice.

Last week the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office learned Polanski would be in Zurich and prosecutors sent a provisional arrest warrant to Swiss authorities, Sandi Gibbons, spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office, told the Los Angeles Times.

Asked if prosecutors would seek jail time for Polanski if he is returned to the United States, Gibbons said: “We’ve always maintained this is a matter between Polanski and the court … We initially recommended prison time for him but I can’t see into the future.”

Few lives have turned into the macabre public spectacle that Polanski’s has, first after the gruesome murder of his pregnant wife Sharon Tate in 1969 by the Charles Manson murder gang, and again eight years later when he was arrested for the statutory rape of the 13-year-old girl.

Fantasies and fears

But few directors have laid bare their inner fantasies and fears like Polanski in films such as Repulsion, Rosemary’s Baby and The Tenant–films of disturbing brutality shot through with voyeurism and dark humour.

From early childhood when he escaped the Nazi holocaust in Poland, Polanski’s life has appeared, like his movies, to hover precariously on the brink of tragedy.

“I am shocked that any man of 76, whether distinguished or not, should have been treated in such a fashion,” said best-selling British writer Robert Harris who worked with Polanski making his book The Ghost into a film.

“(The French culture minister) profoundly regrets that a new ordeal is being inflicted on someone who has already known so many during his life, which has bubbled with spirit and creativity,” the statement from his ministry said.

Born Raymond Polanski to Polish-Jewish parents on August 18, 1933, he spent the first three years of his life in Paris before the family returned to Poland. When the Germans sealed off the Jewish ghetto in Krakow in 1940, his father shouted to Roman to run and he escaped.

His mother later died in an Auschwitz gas chamber. His first full-length feature film after graduation, Knife in the Water, won awards and, most important for Polanski, was his ticket to the West.

As his reputation grew– first with Repulsion, his study of a woman terrified by sex who becomes a psychotic murderer, and then with the absurdist masterpiece Cul de Sac–Polanski developed a taste for the high life and beautiful women.

In 1974 Polanski had another major Hollywood success with Chinatown, a stylish thriller starring Nicholson, but his private life stayed unsettled as he drifted between Paris, Rome and Los Angeles and embarked on numerous short-lived affairs.

In 2003, he won the Oscar for The Pianist. “I am widely regarded, I know, as an evil, profligate dwarf,” Polanski wrote in his autobiography. “My friends — and the women in my life — know better.”

21 Responses to “Polanski’s Swiss arrest!”

  1. I thought there were no twists left in the Roman Polanski saga…

    Aside: no wonder Polanski fled the country. His defense — that the girl was experienced and had consented — is irrelevant as a matter of law, as “consent” is not an issue in statutory rape (as a minor is deemed incapable of consent in the eyes of the law). Circumstances such as consent and the age of the other sexual partner might be relevant to other things, such as how severe/lenient the sentence should be (e.g. the situation will be very different if one party is 21 and the other 17; than if one party is 42 and the other 13). In some states in the US, even INTENTION is not relevant as far as I know (i.e., if X thinks Y is an adult, but Y isn’t, X can still be convicted of statutory rape)…


    • Polanski was stupid. Where were his legal advisors? He thought because of the ‘open’ passport policy in the EU that he could travel to Switzerland. Yeah, maybe by private plane but not to an international airport like Zurich where he was on the watch list.

      I don’t feel much sympathy for him because everyone should be treated the same by law. He should not have fled the US. From what I read back then a lot of people felt sorry for him after the Tate murder and he could have fought the case more vigorously and gotten a light sentence and put this all behind him.


  2. I am surprised that Polanski went to a place where he could be extradited, since he has spent most of his life since 1976 avoiding that possibility. Perhaps he thought he was safe, since the extradition agreement is “unclear”, as his attorney says.

    I am more appalled by the reactions of the French government. True, he is a distinguished filmmaker. He is also a convicted rapist. Can the two not go together? Is one accomplishment supposed to excuse the other crime? This is a question that comes up with many people, not just Polanski.

    I stopped watching Polanski’s films once he fled to France. (BTW, I wonder how he got French citizenship, with a rape conviction on his record? It wouldn’t be possible for him to get U.S. citizenship, for instance, with such a conviction in another country.) At the same time, I do feel some bemusement at the fact that he is 76 — much as I have felt when Nazi criminals of similar or older age have been arrested, tried, and sentenced. I feel there should be an end to a sense of vengeance, but there should also be a closure from the justice point of view. I do feel happy to know that there seems to be no statute of limitations on rape, as there isn’t for murder.

    There is no question of “consent” by a 13 year old, drugged or sober, experienced or not.


    • The french is respecting the law. France don’t “send away” (i don’t know the exact word) french citizen, so he can’t be extracted because of that.


  3. This arrest, in my opinion, will not result in anything beyond an eventual release, due to worldwide pressure and sympathy for Polanski. The U.S. has the rare role here of aggressor, and it won’t sit well even with our allies.


    • Thank you to the writer of this article. It seems the inportant facts are being lost in the chorus of support for Polanski.

      BTW, it was not just this one underage girl. It was well known that he had a relationship with Natassja Kinski when she was 15 and he was 41 and then cast her in his movie Tess. Obviously he has a predilection for young girls and I doubt if it ended after he fled the US. We will one day be hearing from those girls when he is not around to have his fans demonize them.

      Yes, he is old now but he needs to face the charges and move on. He will probably get a probation or some such anyway.

      But the people making excuses for him because of who he is and what he suffered I find just as despicable.


      • Tyler, completely agree. I find the position of the French authorities making excuses for his actions on the basis of “artistic achievements” inexplicable. He should be made to face the charges (which I find extremely serious) and deal with the consequences like anyone else.


      • You might be pleased to know that now the French authorities,at least, are backtracking some of their early support for Polanski. Public opinion polls in leading French newspapers such as Le Monde have the public overwhelmingly in support of extraditing Polanski and having him take the punishment for his crime. I believe it was about 70% in the Le Monde poll and about 90% in some other paper’s poll.


  4. Is anyone else troubled by the petition signed by about 100 film people (I can’t remember if they are all directors) asking for Polanski to be released? There are some unexpected names here, people for whom I had respect. Now I don’t know what to think. They include people like Woody Allen (OK, I stopped respecting him a long time ago), Pedro Almovadar, Martin Scorcese, etc.


  5. NY Times:

    September 30, 2009
    Op-Ed Contributor
    Why Arrest Roman Polanski Now?

    Kingsbury, England

    FOR more than two and a half years I have been working almost continuously with the director Roman Polanski, first on a screenplay of my novel “Pompeii” — which was never made — and then on a movie of another of my books, “The Ghost,” which was shot earlier this year. I have never collaborated with anyone more closely.

    So when, just before lunch on Sunday, the news broke that Mr. Polanski had been arrested overnight at the Zurich airport on an outstanding warrant relating to a conviction for sex with a minor back in the 1970s, my first response was to feel almost physically sick. Mr. Polanski has become a good friend. Our families have spent time together. His daughter and mine keep in regular touch. His past did not bother me, any more (presumably) than it did the three French presidents with whom he has had private dinners, or the hundreds of actors and technicians who have worked with him since 1977, or the fans who come up to him in the streets of Paris for his autograph.

    My second response, when the shock wore off, was to wonder, why now? I have worked several times with Mr. Polanski in Switzerland, where he owns a house in Gstaad. He travels back and forth from France a dozen times a year. If Mr. Polanski is such a physical danger and moral affront to civilized society that he must be locked up, even at the age of 76, why was he not picked up earlier, when he was 66, or 56 — or even 46? It would not have been hard to grab him at his home: his name is on the doorbell.

    To answer this question the Los Angeles County district attorney, Stephen L. Cooley, has issued a “timeline” purporting to show the numerous efforts made by his office to have Mr. Polanski arrested. In fact it reveals precisely the opposite: how half-heartedly the case has been pursued since 1978, when Mr. Polanski fled the United States. On only five occasions — right at the outset, when he flew to London; in 1986, when it was rumored he might visit Canada; in 1988, when it was suggested he might be headed to Brazil, or elsewhere in Europe; in 2005, when he went to Thailand; and in 2007, when he visited Israel — do overseas authorities seem to have been contacted by the district attorney with specific information about his presence. This is hardly a red-hot manhunt.

    Mr. Cooley’s office maintains that Mr. Polanski’s visit to the Zurich Film Festival over the weekend was different. It offered a unique opportunity to seize him, the office says, because officials knew for the first time precisely where he would be, and when. But Mr. Polanski was always heading off to film festivals and award ceremonies when I worked with him. To take only one example, his appearance at the Turin Film Festival last November had been advertised across the Internet since the February before. In other words, the district attorney had nine months’ notice of where he would be and when.

    So it seems fair to deduce that the capture of Mr. Polanski — who has never been accused of similar offenses before 1977 or since — was an understandably low priority for the California criminal justice system, a system so short of money, that a court ordered it to release 40,000 convicts early because of prison overcrowding.

    I suspect that this peculiar standoff — of sporadic, bureaucratic twitchings to remind the world that Mr. Polanski was still a fugitive, but no serious attempts at arrest — would have continued had it not been for Marina Zenovich’s 2008 documentary, “Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired.” As it happens, I was with Mr. Polanski — in Switzerland, in fact — last year when the documentary was first shown at the Sundance Film Festival. We were having dinner when Mr. Polanski’s agent, Jeff Berg, rang to say he had just seen it. He conveyed good news: the film was unexpectedly favorable to the director, revealing just how bizarre had been the judge’s handling of the original case.

    For Mr. Polanski, this was a moment of triumph. However, by a terrible irony, it was also at this moment that the seeds of his present predicament were sown. He thought he could settle the matter at last, and his subsequent, vigorous legal attempts to have the case against him closed — supported, remarkably, by his victim, Samantha Geimer, the one person who comes out of this affair with her dignity enhanced — clearly infuriated Mr. Cooley. Legal authorities the world over loathe being publicly criticized. After the arrest was announced, Mr. Cooley declared that Mr. Polanski “has been trying to get it resolved on his terms, but it’s going to be on the terms of the Los Angeles County justice system.”

    It sounds very much as though Mr. Polanski became overconfident, both in the rightness of his own cause and in the safety of Switzerland as a refuge — a country that after the credit crisis suddenly seems to be much more eager to cooperate with international authorities. Its volte-face on its famous guest has drawn understandable contempt and Mr. Polanski, in his cell, now has plenty of time to ponder the limits of Swiss hospitality.

    I make no apology for feeling desperately sorry for him. The almost pornographic relish with which his critics are retelling the lurid details of the assault (strange behavior, one might think, for those who profess concern for the victim) makes it hard to consider the case rationally. Of course what happened cannot be excused, either legally or ethically.

    But Ms. Geimer wants it dropped, to shield her family from distress, and Mr. Polanski’s own young children, to whom he is a doting father, want him home. He is no threat to the public. The original judicial procedure was undeniably murky. So cui bono, as the Romans used to say — who benefits?

    Robert Harris is the author of “Fatherland” and, most recently, “The Ghost.”


  6. Here’s the complete list of the signatories to the petition I was talking about earlier. It has some unexpected names. Several of these people are old enough to have been aware of the original charges, trial, and verdict, if that is, they ever pay attention to the news.

    Tous les signataires de la pétition pour Roman Polanski / All signing parties

    Erika Abrams, Fatih Akin, Yves Alberty, Stephane Allagnon, Woody Allen, Pedro Almodovar, Gianni Amelio, Wess Anderson, Michel Andrieu, Roger Andrieux, Jean-Jacques Annaud, Frédéric Aranzueque-Arrieta, Alexandre Arcady, Fanny Ardant, Asia Argento, Marie-Hélène Arnau, Darren Aronofsky, Olivier Assayas, Alexander Astruc, Gabriel Auer, Zdzicho Augustyniak, Alexandre Babel, Fausto Nicolás Balbi, Eleonor Baldwin, Jean-François Balmer, Alberto Barbera (Museo nazionale de Torino), Luc Barnier, Christophe Barratier, Ernest Barteldes, Carmen Bartl, Pascal Batigne, Anne Baudry, Juan Antonio Bayona, Xavier Beauvois, Liria Begeja, Matthieu Béguelin, Gilles Behat, Jean-Jacques Beineix, Marco Bellochio, Yannick Bellon, Monica Bellucci, Véra Belmont, Jean-Marc Benguigui, Djamel Bennecib, Luc Béraud, Jacob Berger, Alain Berliner, Gael Garcia Bernal, Pascal Berney, Bernardo Bertolucci, Giuseppe Bertolucci, Jean-Marie Besset, Marlène Bisson, Arnstein Bjørkly, Lucien Blacher, Virginie Blanc-Brude Bard, Jean-Marc Bloch, Catherine Boissière, Anne-Sylvie Bonaud, Olivier Bonnet, Thierry Boscheron, Freddy Bossy, Patrick Bouchitey, Cédric Bouchoucha, Paul Boujenah, Frédéric Bourboulon, Katia Boutin (Membre de l’équipe du dernier film de Roman Polanski “The Ghost”), Ian Brady, Jacques Bral, Sophie Bramly, Paulo Branco, Patrick Braoudé, Guila Braoudé, Edwin Brienen, Isabelle Broué, Max Brun, Merima Bruncevic, Anne Burki, André Buytaers, Anthony Byrne, Marco Cacioppo, Gerald Calderon, Monica Cannizzaro, John Carchietta, Christian Carion, Henning Carlsen, Jean-Michel Carré, Esteban Carvajal Alegria, Lionel Cassan (Membre de l’équipe du dernier film de Roman Polanski “The Ghost”), Bryan Cassiday, Mathieu Celary, Teco Celio, Muriel Cerf, Chagi, Jean-Yves Chalangeas, Daniel Champagnon, Christophe Champclaux, Georges Chappedelaine, Fabienne Chauveau, Claire Chazal, Patrice Chéreau, Brigitte Chesneau, Mishka Cheyko, Catherine Chiono, Catherine Chouchan, Elie Chouraqui, Souleymane Cissé, Jean- Pierre Clech, Henri Codenie, Ethan Coen, Robert Cohen, Suzanne Colonna, Jean-Paul Commin, Anne Consigny, Alain Cophignon, Alain Corneau, Jérôme Cornuau, Guy Courtecuisse (Membre de l’équipe du dernier film de Roman Polanski “The Ghost”), Miguel Courtois, Guillaume Cousin, Morgan Crestel, Dominique Crevecoeur, Penelope Cruz, Alfonso Cuaron, Estelle Cywje, Frédéric Damien, Sophie Danon, Olivier Dard, Luc et Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Isabelle Dassonville, Hervé de Luze (Membre de l’équipe du dernier film de Roman Polanski “The Ghost”), Artus de Penguern, Valérie de Saint-Do, Virginie De Wilde, Viviane Decuypere, Guillermo del Toro, Benoît Delmas, Jonathan Demme, Ruud den Dryver, Dante Desarthe, Romain Desbiens, Thomas Desjonquères (Membre de l’équipe du dernier film de Roman Polanski “The Ghost”), Alexandre Desplat, Chris Devi, Rosalinde et Michel Deville, Guillaume D’Ham (Membre de l’équipe du dernier film de Roman Polanski “The Ghost”), Christelle Didier (Membre de l’équipe du dernier film de Roman Polanski “The Ghost”), Kathrin DiPaola, Claire Dixsaut, Xavier Dolan, Ariel Dorfman, Jean Douchet, Jean Douchet, Fabrice du Welz, Marina Duarte Nunes Ferreira, Marc Dufrenois, Sissi Duparc, Jean Dusaussoy, Georges Dybman, Daniel Edinger, Yaniv Elani, Elrem, Sam Enoch, Ernest, Jacques Fansten, Joël Farges, Gianluca Farinelli (Cinémathèque de de Bologne), Etienne Faure, Maud et Romain Ferrari, Michel Ferry, Jean Teddy Filippe (Membre de l’équipe du dernier film de Roman Polanski “The Ghost”), Aurélie Fiorentino, Alan Fischer, Martine Fitoussi, Sebastian Fleischhacker, Joy Fleury., Michael Flynn, Hugues Fontenoy, Scott Foundas, Werner Fraai, Jean-Robert Franco, Stephen Frears, Thierry Frémaux, Marc Freycon, Sam Gabarski, René Gainville, Matteo Garone, Yves Gasser, Tony Gatlif, Catherine Gaudin-Montalto, Jean-Marc Gauthier, Costa Gavras, Nathalie Geiser, Lizi Gelber, Isabelle Gély, Jean-Marc Ghanassia, Alain Gil, Véronique Gillet, Terry Gilliam, Christian Gion, François Girault, Stéphane Gizard, Carlos Miguel Bernardo González, Christophe Goumand, Eric Gravereau, Martin Gregus, Philippe Gruss, Marc Guidoni, Marta Gutowska, Mikael Håfström, Ronald Harwood, Dimitri Haulet, Geert Heirbaut, Buck Henry, David Heyman, Laurent Heynemann, Joshua Highfield , Dominique Hollier, Isabelle Hontebeyrie, Frédéric Horiszny, Robert Hossein, Jean-Loup Hubert, Wendy Hudson, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Gilles Jacob, Eric et Veronique et Nicolas Jacquelin, Just Jaeckin, Thomas Jahn, Olivia Janik, Jean-Baptiste Jay, Anne Jeandet, Alain Jessua, Renate Jett, Sébastien Jimenez, Arthur Joffé, Pierre Jolivet, Kent Jones (World Cinema Foundation), Peter Josy, Alexandra Julen, Paola Jullian, Roger Kahane, Pierre Kalfon, Elisabeth Kalinowski, Reena Kanji, Nelly Kaplan, Wong Kar Waï, Darius Khondji, Ladislas Kijno, Richard Klebinder, Jonathan Klein, Harmony Korinne, Jan Kounen, Sylvia Kristel, Diane Kurys, Emir Kusturica, Irene Kuznetzova, Jean Labadie, Eliane Lacroux, Michel Laigle, Stéphane Lam, John Landis, Claude Lanzmann, David Lanzmann, André Larquié, Pauline Larrieu, Jacques et Françoise Lassalle, Carole Laure, Christine Laurent-Blixen, Emilien Lazaron (Membre de l’équipe du dernier film de Roman Polanski “The Ghost”), Eric Le Roy, Fábio Leal, Vinciane Lecocq, Patrice Leconte, Linda Lefebvre, Claude Lelouch, Ann Lemonnier, Alain Lenglet, Gérard Lenne, Larry Levine, Lorraine Lévy, Pierre et Renée Lhomme, Marceline Loridan-Ivens, Michael Louis Wells, Catalina Lozano, Hugo Luczyc-Wyhowski, Flore Luquet, Laurence Lustyk, David Lynch, Bania Madjbar, Laurent Malet, Tim Malieckal, Guy Malugani, Erling Mandelmann, Michael Mann, Yvon Marciano, François Margolin, Jean-Pierre Marois, Tonie Marshall, Alain Martin, Sandrine Martin, Didier Martiny, Mario Martone, Christine Mathis, Esmeralda Mattei, Nicolas Mauvernay, Yannick Mazet, Christopher, Spencer et Claire Mc Andrew, Natalie Mei, Guillermo Menaldi, Frédéric Mermoud, Laura Metaxa, Allison Michel, Radu Mihaileanu, Jean-Louis Milesi, Claude Miller, Lionel Miniato, Nelly Moaligou, Jean-Marc Modeste , Mario Monicelli, Jeanne Moreau, Gael Morel, Omayra Muñiz Fernández, Stephanie Murat, Christian Mvogo Mbarga, Anna N.Levine, Charles Nemes, Juliette Nicolas-Donnard, Sandra Nicolier, Rachel Noël, Rui Nogueira, Olivier Nolin, Alejandra Norambuena Skira, Fabrice Nordmann, Fabrice O. Joubert, Michel Ocelot, David Ogando, Mariana Oliveira Santos, Szentgyörgyi Ottó, Martine Pagès, Eric Pape, Abner Pastoll, Alexander Payne, Richard Pena (Directeur Festival de NY), Lindsey Pence, Olivier Père, Suzana Peric (Membre de l’équipe du dernier film de Roman Polanski “The Ghost”), Jacques Perrin, Thomas Pibarot, Arnaud Pierrichon, Stéphane Pietri, Anne Pigeon Bormans, Samuel Pinon, Claude Pinoteau, Michele Placido, Sabrina Poidevin, Agnès Catherine Poirier, Jean-Yves Potel, Stéphane Pozderec, Harry Prenger, Jean et Marie Prévost, Gilbert Primet, Marie-Hélène Raby, Philippe Radault, Tristan Rain, Florence Raphaël, Jean-Paul Rappeneau, Joseph Rassam, Rolandas Rastauskas, Brett Ratner, Raphael Rebibo, Jo Reymen, Laurence Reymond, Yasmina Reza, Christiane Rhein, Jacques Richard, Dominique Robert, Jean-Jacques Rochut, Yannick Rolandeau, Paul Rondags, Avital Ronell, Frank Roozendaal, Graciela Rosato, Kontochristopoulou Roula, Laurence Roulet, Joshua Rout, Paolo Roversi, Florence Rphael, Isabelle Ruh, Martin Ruhe, Sonia Rykiel, Anita S. Chang, Esteban S. Goffin, Joaquin Sabina, Marc Saffar, Ludivine Sagnier, Gabriela Salazar Scherman, Walter Salles, Jean-Paul Salomé, Jean-Frédéric Samie, Marc Sandberg, Léo Scalpel, Jerry Schatzberg, Richard Schlesinger, Daniel Schmidt, Georg Schmithüsen, Julian Schnabel, Barbet Schroeder, J. Neil Schulman, Pierre Schumacher, Ettore Scola, Luis Gustavo Sconza Zaratin Soares, Martin Scorsese, Steven Sedgwick, Steven Sedgwick, Andrea Sedlackova, Frank Segier, Michèle Seguin-Sirhugue, Guy Seligmann, Lorenzo Semple Jr, Julien Seri, Sophie Sharkov, Boris Shlafer, Antoine Silber, Pierre Silvant, Charlotte Silvera, Noel Simsolo, Christophe Sirodeau, Abderrahmane Sissako, Beatrice Sisul , Petter Skavlan, Marcin Sokolowski, Paolo Sorrentino, Roch Stephanik, Karen Stetler, Guillaume Stirn, Gérard Stum, Jean-Marc Surcin, Tilda Swinton, Jean-Charles Tacchella, Radovan Tadic, Danis Tanovic, Bertrand Tavernier, André Techiné, Cécile Telerman, Harold Alvarado Tenorio, Alain Terzian, Christian Texier, Valentine Theret, Virginie Thévenet, Pascal Thomas, Jeremy Thomas, Marc Thomas Charley, Giuseppe Tornatore, Serge Toubiana, Nadine Trintignant, Julie Turcas, Mitja Tušek, Tom Tykwer, Alexandre Tylski, Stephen Ujlaki, Jaques Vallotton, Phil van der Linden, Betrand van Effenterre, Leopold van Genechten, Christophe van Rompaey, Dorna van Rouveroy, Elbert van Strien, Vangelis, Lucília Verdelho da Costa, Christian Verdu, Jean-Pierre Vergne, Sarah Vermande, Julien Veyret, Marc Villemain, Jean-François Villemer, Daria Vinault, Verde Visconti, Thomas Vossart, Gilles Walusinski, Eric Watton, Dominique Welinski, Wim Wenders, Anaïse Wittmann, A Wolanin, Margot Wolfs, Arnaud Xainte, Paule Zajdermann, Christian Zeender, Terry Zwigoff.

    Et les organisations professionnelles

    – ABC distribution
    – l’Académie des César
    – l’API (Association des producteurs Indépendants)
    – l’ARP
    – l’ARRF – Association des Réalisateurs et réalisatrices de Films – Belgique
    – Artificial Eye
    – la Cinémathèque Française
    – la Cinémathèque de Dijon / Cinémathèque Jean Douchet
    – Cinemien
    – Dogwoof Pictures
    – Epicentre
    – Les Films du Losange
    – Filmtrade
    – le Festival de Cannes
    – le Festival des Rencontres internationales du cinéma de patrimoine de Vincennes
    – le Fonds Culturel Franco Américain
    – Frenetic
    – le Groupe 25 images
    – Haut et Court
    – Members of the European Producers Club
    – la SACD
    – Le Bureau National du SFA
    – le SPI
    – Le Syndicat National des Techniciens de la Production Cinématographique et de Télévision
    – l’Union des producteurs de films
    – L’équipe du dernier film de Roman Polanski « Ghost »
    – Pathé
    – PCV SA
    – Pyramide
    – Scott Foundas (LA Weekly)
    – Teodora
    – Xenix


  7. Here’s the text of the petition they were all signing. I find it profoundly surrealistic, in that it casts the whole matter as a freedom of expression issue, and seems to be invoking the spectre of ideological censorship by the state. How bizarre. But perhaps that explains why so many people signed it?


    Petition for Roman Polanski

    We have learned the astonishing news of Roman Polanski’s arrest by the Swiss police on September 26th, upon arrival in Zurich (Switzerland) while on his way to a film festival where he was due to receive an award for his career in filmmaking.

    His arrest follows an American arrest warrant dating from 1978 against the filmmaker, in a case of morals.

    Filmmakers in France, in Europe, in the United States and around the world are dismayed by this decision. It seems inadmissible to them that an international cultural event, paying homage to one of the greatest contemporary filmmakers, is used by the police to apprehend him.

    By their extraterritorial nature, film festivals the world over have always permitted works to be shown and for filmmakers to present them freely and safely, even when certain States opposed this.

    The arrest of Roman Polanski in a neutral country, where he assumed he could travel without hindrance, undermines this tradition: it opens the way for actions of which no-one can know the effects.

    Roman Polanski is a French citizen, a renown and international artist now facing extradition. This extradition, if it takes place, will be heavy in consequences and will take away his freedom.

    Filmmakers, actors, producers and technicians – everyone involved in international filmmaking – want him to know that he has their support and friendship.

    On September 16th, 2009, Mr. Charles Rivkin, the US Ambassador to France, received French artists and intellectuals at the embassy. He presented to them the new Minister Counselor for Public Affairs at the embassy, Ms Judith Baroody. In perfect French she lauded the Franco-American friendship and recommended the development of cultural relations between our two countries.

    If only in the name of this friendship between our two countries, we demand the immediate release of Roman Polanski.



  8. And, in a further “twists” , the former deputy district attorney who was featured in the documentary on Polanski now says that he lied in that film.

    Lawyer in Polanski Documentary Now Says He Lied



  9. I seem to be the only one interested in this topic, but I cannot fathom the appearance of quite a few of the names on the petition. Here’s an interesting article on that subject:

    The Polanski Hypocrisy


    Amid the many reactions to director Roman Polanski’s arrest last weekend in Switzerland more than 30 years after he fled the U.S. after pleading guilty to unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor, none have been as strong as those of the international film community. A petition demanding his release has attracted over 100 film-world signatories, including luminaries from Martin Scorsese and Costa-Gavras to David Lynch and Wong Kar Wai.

    Reading the petition, you could be forgiven for thinking that the dispute was over some obscure diplomatic codicil. Its principal focus is on the mechanics of the arrest, namely Switzerland’s detention of Mr. Polanski on a U.S. request as he was traveling to the Zurich Film Festival. It cites Switzerland’s status as a “neutral country” and the “extraterritorial nature” of film festivals. The substance of his guilty plea and the circumstances of the crime receive only glancing mention, in a single line: “His arrest follows an American arrest warrant dating from 1978 against the filmmaker, in a case of morals.”

    One would never know that those easily brushed off “morals”—rape and pedophilia—have actually been a central concern of some of the petition’s signatories.

    Pedro Almodóvar, the daring Spanish director, created a fascinating study of a pedophiliac relationship between a priest and an altar boy in “Bad Education.” There’s a frank mutual attraction between the characters, but Mr. Almodóvar never leaves any question that their relationship is exploitative at its core, and he makes clear the scars such manipulation can create. If a petition were being circulated for Father Manolo instead of Mr. Polanski, it’s doubtful we’d see Mr. Almodóvar’s signature on it.

    Asia Argento, international cinematic siren, is no stranger to depictions of rape. In her father Dario Argento’s “The Stendahl Syndrome,” she is raped twice, each occasion a source of transformative psychological trauma. If that doesn’t seem experience enough, her own adaptation of the J.T. Leroy novel “The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things” features two of the queasiest rapes of modern cinema, with the adopted son of her character (portrayed by a 7-year-old actor) brutally assaulted by his stepfather and then by another of her boyfriends.

    Harmony Korine, a devotedly weird filmmaker, is no stranger to the frequent pairing of strong drugs and assault; the harrowing end of his screenplay for “Kids” features a character raped while under the influence of an unnamed depressant. In “Kids,” the assailant didn’t give her the drug; there’s no question about Mr. Polanski plying a 13-year-old with Quaaludes. Yet Mr. Korine’s name is there on the petition.

    That’s far from the extent of the scabrous depictions of rape in the signatories’ work. Monica Bellucci appeared in perhaps the longest single-take rape sequence ever filmed, a nine-minute segment of Gaspar Noe’s stomach-churning “Irreversible.”

    In their depictions of these acts, the directors and actors in question seem keenly aware of the extreme violence of rape and the terrible psychological consequences that follow its victims for years afterward. But for them, apparently, life doesn’t imitate art.

    Still, some film-world names were notable for their absence from the petition. Director Luc Besson refrained from signing it, noting, in an interview with RTL Soir, “I don’t have any opinion on this, but I have a daughter, 13 years old. And if she was violated, nothing would be the same, even 30 years later.”

    Perhaps the only group more incoherent than the cinematic community in its reaction has been Polish officials. Mr. Polanski, who was born and raised in Poland, has received much support from his countrymen. In an irony evidently lost on Polish bureaucrats, government ministers of the Civic Platform Party began protesting Mr. Polanski’s arrest on Saturday, one day after their government successfully passed a law making chemical castration mandatory for pedophiles in cases involving victims under 15.

    Now there’s a thought.
    —Mr. Paletta is an editor at the Manhattan Institute’s Center for the American University.



  10. Swiss Reject U.S. Request to Extradite Polanski

    Filed at 8:31 a.m. ET

    BERN, Switzerland (AP) — The Swiss government declared renowned film director Roman Polanski a free man on Monday after rejecting a U.S. request to extradite him on a charge of having sex in 1977 with a 13-year-old girl.

    The Swiss mostly blamed U.S. authorities for failing to provide confidential testimony about Polanski’s sentencing procedure in 1977-1978.

    The Justice Ministry also said that national interests were taken into consideration in the stunning decision.

    ”The 76-year-old French-Polish film director Roman Polanski will not be extradited to the USA,” the ministry said in a statement. ”The freedom-restricting measures against him have been revoked.”

    Polanski’s lawyer Herve Temime said the director was still at his Swiss chalet in the resort of Gstaad, where he has been held under house arrest since December.

    Switzerland’s top justice official said he could now leave.

    ”Mr. Polanski can now move freely. Since 12:30 today he’s a free man,” Justice Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf declared.

    Approving extradition had seemed the likeliest scenario after Polanski was arrested on Sept. 26 as he arrived in Zurich to receive a lifetime achievement award from a film festival. Polanski had also suffered a series of legal setbacks this year in California courts.

    Widmer-Schlumpf said the decision was not meant to excuse Polanski’s crime, saying the issue was ”not about deciding whether he is guilty or not guilty.”

    The Oscar-winning director of ”Rosemary’s Baby,” ”Chinatown” and ”The Pianist” was accused of plying his victim with champagne and part of a Quaalude during a 1977 modeling shoot and raping her. He was initially indicted on six felony counts, including rape by use of drugs, child molesting and sodomy, but pleaded guilty to one count of unlawful sexual intercourse.

    What happened after that is a subject of dispute. The defense says the now deceased judge, Laurence J. Rittenband, had agreed in meetings with attorneys to sentence Polanski to a 90-day diagnostic study and nothing more. The judge later changed his mind and summoned Polanski for further sentencing — at which time he fled to his native France, attorneys say.


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