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Rosanna Arquette has joined a group of French feminists and film industry professionals in calling on the European Film Awards to rescind Roman Polanski’s nominations for An Officer and a Spy ahead of the Dec. 7 awards.
Cesar winners Andrea Bescond and Eric Metayer (Little Tickles), Speak Up director Amandine Gay and Kabul Kitchen actress Catherine Zavlav are also among the signatories, along with activist Clementine Vagne who led the petition to prevent Polanski from serving as president of the Cesar awards in 2017.
An Officer and a Spy premiered at the Venice Film Festival, where it won the Grand Jury prize. The period drama, about the Jewish Captain Alfred Dreyfus, who was wrongfully convicted of treason in 19th century France, is the frontrunner at the EFAs, with nominations in the main categories —best film, best director and best screenwriter — for Polanski. It also scored a cinematography nod and a best actor nomination for Oscar-winner Jean Dujardin.
The nominations were announced just days after actress Valentine Monnier came forward with her story of allegedly being raped by Polanski in 1975 in newspaper Le Parisien, which was corroborated by contemporary witnesses. Monnier said she was compelled to tell her story now after reporting on An Officer and a Spy drew comparisons between Polanski and Dreyfus, suggesting the Polish director was also the victim of false accusations. In an interview for the film, Polanski said he felt “persecuted” by people “who harass me, do not know me and know nothing about [allegations against me].”
The group addressed the request to European Film Academy director Marion Doring and jury members Nadia Ben Rachid, Vanja Cernjul, Annette Focks, Eimer Ni Mhaoldomhnaigh, Gerda Koekoek, Artur Pinheiro, Gisle Tveito and Istvan Vadja.
“Let’s be clear. Polanski is not a pariah. He is a sex offender,” the group wrote, citing Polanski’s conviction on statutory rape charges in the U.S. in 1977 as well as multiple women and girls who have accused the director of sexual assault over the years.
“The #MeToo and Time’s Up movements have upended the status quo on sexual violence. It is well past time that Europe stop allowing sexual offenders like Polanski to act with impunity. Putting rapists on notice will send a clear message to victims of sexual violence and child sexual abuse: ‘We believe you, we will break the silence, and we will bring about structural change,’” they wrote.
“The movie industry’s acceptance of Polanski must end. Its complicit willingness to ‘separate the art from the artist’ must end,” they wrote, continuing: “We ask that you also step forward and take a stand against sexual violence as movie industry professionals and European citizens. We ask you to shine your spotlight on rape culture in Europe and to shame, rather than laud, its perpetrators in the film industry.”
French feminist groups have called for a boycott of Polanski’s film and staged protests at theaters across the country. A special screening of An Officer and a Spy in Paris was canceled ahead of its premiere, and a theater in Poitiers pulled the film Nov. 27 after protests.
Despite calls for the boycott, An Officer and a Spy topped the French box office in its first week of release with over 501,000 tickets sold across 545 screens. It fell to fourth place in its second week, bringing its two-week total to 887,000 seats filled.
Polanski pled guilty to the statutory rape of a 13-year-old-girl in 1977 as part of a plea bargain to avoid more serious charges and served 42 days in jail. He fled the U.S. before his final sentencing and remains a fugitive.
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