In a post-#MeToo world, accused folks have a few different paths they can take when confronted with allegations of sexual misconduct. You can apologize and try to make it right. You can disappear and hope that everything blows over. Or, you can fight it. And in the case of Roman Polanski, he’s firmly set up in the latter camp. And in a new interview ahead of the Venice premiere of his latest film “An Officer and a Spy,” the controversial filmmaker doesn’t back down regarding his current situation.
The French writer Pascal Bruckner conducted an interview with the filmmaker that shows up in the official Venice press kit for ‘Officer.’ And after quite a few questions about the new film from Polanski, the director is then asked about his current situation, where he’s seemingly blacklisted from Hollywood. And it would appear that Bruckner, echoing many folks involved in the festival, feel as if Polanski is judged unfairly.
Not to say the question is “leading” in any way, but once you read the setup for Polanski’s answer, you can see why the filmmaker might have felt more comfortable giving a blunt response.
Bruckner asked, “As a Jew who was hunted during the war and a filmmaker persecuted by the Stalinists in Poland, will you survive the present-day neofeminist McCarthyism which, as well as chasing you all over the world and trying to prevent the screening of your films, among other vexations got you expelled from the Oscars Academy?”
Before we get to the response, it’s interesting to note that the question posits the theory that it’s the “neofeminist McCarthyism” that earned Polanski’s expulsion from the Academy. Instead of, you know, the fact that he was convicted for the rape of a minor and fled the country to avoid imprisonment. Granted, the Academy can be blamed for being decades late in its decision.
Regardless, Polanksi pulls no punches when he replied, “Working, making a film like [‘An Officer and a Spy’] helps me a lot. In the story, I sometimes find moments I have experienced myself, I can see the same determination to deny the facts and condemn me for things I have not done. Most of the people who harass me do not know me and know nothing about the case.”
He added, “My work is not therapy. However, I must admit that I am familiar with many of the workings of the apparatus of persecution shown in the film, and that has clearly inspired me.”
Polanski then goes on to explain how the media circus around the murder of his then-wife Sharon Tate, which involved the filmmaker initially being considered a suspect by the public, has contributed to what Bruckner describes as “persecution.”
He continued, “All this still haunts me today. Anything and everything. It is like a snowball, each season adds another layer. Absurd stories by women I have never seen before in my life who accuse me of things which supposedly happened more than half a century ago.”
As mentioned, “An Officer and a Spy” debuts at this year’s Venice Film Festival, which has just kicked off. International distribution, including the US, for the film has yet to be announced.