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?”