Feminists protest Polanski film event

PARIS • It is an "indecent" act to hold a retrospective of the films of director Roman Polanski, who has been accused of several sexual assaults, say French feminists. They added that it is also "an insult" to women following the Harvey Weinstein scandal.

The event is organised by Cinematheque Francaise, a major Paris-based film archive that is partly funded by the state.

Polanski, who is wanted in the United States for having unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl in 1977, is scheduled to attend the opening today.

Activist Laure Salmona said it was "indecent" to honour Polanski at a time when women are beginning to open up about sexual abuse in the wake of the allegations that toppled Hollywood producer Weinstein.

"It's an insult to all the women who mobilised around the #MeToo and #BalanceTonPorc (Expose the pig) hashtags and an affront to all rape victims, particularly Polanski's victims," she wrote.

"We're hungry for culture, not rape culture," she added in the petition on the Change.org website.

The event, headed by Greek-French director Costa-Gavras, has ruled out a cancellation, saying the organiser does not intend to "take the place of the justice system".

Polanski has been a fugitive from the US justice system for four decades. He pleaded guilty in 1977 to having unlawful sex with Samantha Geimer - who was 13 at the time - but fled before he could be sentenced.

All attempts to have him extradited back to the US have failed.

Earlier this month, Swiss prosecutors confirmed they were investigating new rape allegations against Polanski, made by a woman who said he assaulted her in a resort in the Swiss Alps in 1972. The new claims bring to at least four the number of women who have publicly accused him of sexual assault.

A feminist association has called for a protest outside the Cinematheque during his appearance at the retrospective today.

In January, the director was forced to pull out of presiding over the French Oscars - the Cesars - after feminist groups called for the awards to be boycotted.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 30, 2017, with the headline 'Feminists protest Polanski film event'. Print Edition | Subscribe