As mentioned once before, Viewfinder doesn't often refer to recent items of the press, but for one obvious reason the French press are taking a particular interest in the Polanski case.
As the work of this 76 year old film producer, actor and writer has given a great deal of pleasure to millions of people, including me, it's also normal that one would be concerned by his having to contend with the accusation of a sexual offence dating from 1977, and the possibility of being extradited from Switzerland, where he has been assigned to residence since the 4th December, to face charges in the USA.
Over a hundred notable, international actors and film producers have signed a petition demanding Polanki's release. Among them include Woody Allen, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Martin Scorcese, David Lynch, Wong Kar Wai, Harmony Korine, Stephen Frears, Alexander Payne, Michael Mann, Wim Wenders, Tilda Swinton, Julian Schnabel, and Pedro Almodovar. It would seem that any, including Michael Douglas, who declined to sign the petition, are in the minority.
He recently 'broke his silence' regarding his case on 'Le Règle du Jeu', a site managed by Bernard-Henri Levy. Since then, and conveniently in time for the Cannes Festival, Polanski has been accused by a 42 year old actress of sexually abusing her in 1984 when she was 16 years old.
According to the Figaro, the latest story of the new accusation, is as follows:
'Charlotte Lewis, 42 years of age, has declared to the press that she was 'sexually abused in the worst possible manner' by the film producer, actually assigned to residence in Switzerland.
She affirms in Los Angeles of having been 'sexually abused' by the film producer Roman Polanski in his Parisian apartment in the early eighties, when she was 16 years old.
Charlotte Lewis, next to her lawyer, Gloria Allred, a specialist of 'affairs' regarding notable personalities, declared that she was 'sexually abused in the worst possible way' by the film producer when she was 16. "Mr Polanski knew that I was only 16 when we met, and he forced me (to have sexual relations with him) in his Parisian apartment", continued the now 42 year old actress. In 1986, Charlotte Lewis figured in the Polanski film "Pirates". Since then she has performed in about thirty feature-length films and a televised series.
'All I want is that justice prevails'
"Besides the fact that his victim and myself were both under age, I believe that there are other similarities in the crimes which he committed. All I want is that justice prevails. It's very important that the prosecutor and the Swiss authorities have this information when they decide on the fate of Mr. Polanski", she continued. Gloria Allred specified that her client had filed a deposition with the police of Los Angeles (LAPD) as well as with the prosecutor, hoping that its testimony would be taken into account by the Swiss authorities to enable them to reach their decision regarding the extradition of the film producer.
Polanski's French lawyer, Mr. Kiejman, announced on Europe 1 the charges brought against his client. "The fact that this person has rediscovered her memory 26 years after the facts surprises more than one person", the French lawyer remarked ironically. "It all appears to me to be a pure and simple operation of blackmail which would deserve- if one could take it seriously- an action of libellous denunciation", he added. "I contacted Mr. Polanski (by telephone), he has no idea of what she's talking about. He well remembers that she acted in the film for him. He well remembers that the filming lasted several months in Tunisia. As for the aggression, he regards it as a pure and simple lie", George Kiejman concluded.
Roman Polanski is currently assigned to residence in Switzerland awaiting a possible extradition. He was arrested last September on an American mandate for an affair of "illegal sexual relationships" with a minor which occurred in 1977.'
Regarding this particular, somewhat belated accusation, the obvious questions would be:
Why, after being 'sexually abused in the worst possible way', did Charlotte Lewis neglect to seek justice at the time, and thus in doing so, perhaps save other young girls from the possibility of falling victim to Polanski in a similar, terrible way?
Why after being 'sexually abused in the worst possible way', did Charlotte Lewis accept to figure in Roman Polanski's film "Pirates" two years after the terrible ordeal?
Why, after being victim to Polanski in such an intolerable way did she wait 26 years, yet in time for the 63rd Cannes Festival, before accusing him of the crime? For if all she wants is that 'justice prevails', would it not have been more sensible, natural, credible, lawful, therefore just, to have filed her claim of being sexually abused by the film producer, before accepting to play a part in his film "Pirates" only two years later? Would it not have been more natural and 'correct' for a shockingly abused young victim, to refuse categorically to work with the man allegedly responsible for having caused her such an unforgettable, traumatising experience?
This post shouldn't be interpreted as a plea for or against Polanski. If he truly merits what the Californian Court of Justice maintains, then he should be convicted. But if, according to the victim directly concerned, the charges should be dropped as she has repeatedly demanded, surely her request cannot justly be ignored by the court, if indeed justice is to prevail.
By Mirino. Image courtesy of HBO Films, with thanks. May, 2010