Polanski demands reinstatement by film body

LOS ANGELES • Oscar-winning film director Roman Polanski is suing the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, demanding his reinstatement nearly a year after it expelled him amid the #MeToo movement.

Polanski, who pleaded guilty in 1977 to statutory rape, argued in a court filing in Los Angeles that the academy wrongly denied him a hearing when it voted last May to oust him amid the nationwide furore sparked by sexual-abuse revelations against famed producer Harvey Weinstein.

The complaint, filed last Thursday, says the academy's board of governors met on Jan 26 to re-examine its decision and confirmed it. Polanski had been a member since 1968.

"The procedures taken to expel Mr Polanski were fair and reasonable," an academy spokesman said in a statement cited by Variety.

The academy awarded Polanski an Oscar for directing The Pianist (2002). His other films include Rosemary's Baby (1968) and Chinatown (1974).

Polanski pleaded guilty in 1977 to having had unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl, later identified as Ms Samantha Geimer.

After serving 42 days in a California prison while undergoing psychiatric evaluation, he fled to France, saying he feared the judge in the case might renege on a plea deal and send him back to jail.

Because he fled the United States, charges are still pending against him there. He is a dual French-Polish citizen.

Polanski's attorney Harland Braun sent a link last Saturday to an article saying that Ms Geimer, who is now 54, supports the director's desire for reinstatement. The academy's expulsion of Polanski was "an ugly and cruel action", she told Vanity Fair last year.

Mr Braun said Polanski just wanted "a fair hearing".

"You have an offence that's 40 years old, in which he has admitted his guilt, he has apologised to the victim, he has done more time than the law requires and the victim has come forward and begged the courts to put an end to it," he told the Los Angeles Times. "What else do they want from an 85-year-old man?"

The Weinstein scandal rocked Hollywood, galvanising many women to come forward with long-repressed complaints.

The academy adopted a new, more stringent code of conduct and several months after it expelled Weinstein, it voted to oust Polanski. It also expelled actor Bill Cosby, who was accused by numerous women of rape or sexual misconduct. Cosby is now serving a prison sentence in Pennsylvania.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 22, 2019, with the headline 'Polanski demands reinstatement by film body'. Print Edition | Subscribe