PARIS—The French cultural establishment has defended, protected, and lauded Roman Polanski. The director fled the U.S. in 1978 after pleading guilty to unlawful sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old girl, and has successfully evaded extradition back to the States over the years, most recently in 2016, when Poland rejected the request.

But today, the winds are shifting a bit in France. Polanski’s latest film, An Officer and a Spy (known here as J’Accuse), opened last week, and has been leading the box office. It’s a vivid historical drama about a moment that shaped modern France. The movie is set between 1894, when Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish captain in the French army, was convicted of treason and sentenced to prison on charges of espionage trumped up by his anti-Semitic superiors, and 1906, when Dreyfus was finally pardoned, thanks in large part to the novelist Emile Zola’s legendary letter, J’Accuse (or “I accuse”).

A week before the film’s release, another J’accuse letter appeared. On November 8, Valentine Monnier, a French former model and actress, took to the pages of Le Parisien, a Paris daily, to accuse Polanski of raping and beating her until she lost consciousness at his Swiss chalet in 1975, when she was 18 and he was 42. Polanski denies all accusations.

After Monnier came forward, one of the film’s Paris premieres was scrapped because of protests by women’s rights activists. The hashtag #BoycottPolanski sprang up ahead of the debut, although it’s unclear to what effect. Emmanuelle Seigner, Polanski’s wife, who appears in An Officer and a Spy, canceled an interview with France’s leading morning radio show during the promotion tour, the show’s host said. And this week, France’s directors’ guild said it planned to introduce a motion to remove Polanski from its ranks, based on a new rule …read more

Source:: The Atlantic – Culture


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