What Did the Polanski Petition All Those Directors Signed Actually Say?

Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog
Oct. 2 2009 12:35 PM

What Did the Polanski Petition All Those Directors Signed Actually Say?

A petition has been circulated on behalf of Roman Polanski henceforth, to my mind, "RoPo" and signed by A-list movie directors (Pedro Almodovar, Wes Anderson,  Martin Scorsese, Wong Kar Wai, David Lynch). Here it is, briefly annotated:

We have learned the astonishing news of Roman Polanski's arrest by the Swiss police on September 26th, upon arrival in Zurich (Switzerland) while on his way to a film festival where he was due to receive an award for his career in filmmaking.

[We the undersigned constitute a special class of persons. We are both intensely sensitive and intensely well-connected. If we worked with, partied with, and celebrated the film director Roman Polanski, it cannot be that he is guilty of anything meaningful. Our astonishment constitutes prima facie evidence of the unjustness of his being unceremoniously nabbed—and on his way to a lifetime achievement ceremony!]

His arrest follows an American arrest warrant dating from 1978 against the filmmaker, in a case of morals.

[A "case," mind you a still-open state of affairs, not a conviction, in which guilt has been established and admitted to. "Of morals" oh, those American prudes!]

Filmmakers in France, in Europe, in the United States and around the world are dismayed by this decision. It seems inadmissible to them that an international cultural event, paying homage to one of the greatest contemporary filmmakers, is used by the police to apprehend him.

[A film festival, in other words, is like base in tag.]

By their extraterritorial nature, film festivals the world over have always permitted works to be shown and for filmmakers to present them freely and safely, even when certain States opposed this.

[The right to freedom of expression for artists in the face of totalitarian interference should be extended to include asylum for convicted criminals in free countries; for example, if Klaus Barbie showed up for a screening of Hôtel Terminus we would offer him a seat and peace of mind.]

The arrest of Roman Polanski in a neutral country, where he assumed he could travel without hindrance, undermines this tradition: it opens the way for actions of which no one can know the effects.

Advertisement

[Roman always traveled freely in Switzerland party in Gstaad! therefore he should always be allowed to travel freely in Switzerland.]

Roman Polanski is a French citizen, a renown and international artist now facing extradition. This extradition, if it takes place, will be heavy in consequences and will take away his freedom.


[You mean, like, jail?]

Filmmakers, actors, producers and technicians everyone involved in international filmmaking—want him to know that he has their support and friendship.

[In the name of freedom of conscience we speak with one voice, no exceptions, especially the technicians.]

On September 16th, 2009, Mr. Charles Rivkin, the US Ambassador to France, received French artists and intellectuals at the embassy. He presented to them the new Minister Counselor for Public Affairs at the embassy, Ms Judith Baroody. In perfect French she lauded the Franco-American friendship and recommended the development of cultural relations between our two countries.

If only in the name of this friendship between our two countries, we demand the immediate release of Roman Polanski.

[Do you see now what an abomination this is? The woman spoke perfect French. Permettez-moi de le répéter: Français . Parfait. Subjunctive and everything. (The grubs of California officialdom do they even speak perfect English?) We demand the immediate release of Roman Polanski, or else you risk affirming that justice truly is blind.]

Click here to comment on this post.

Stephen Metcalf is Slate's critic at large. He is working on a book about the 1980s.

TODAY IN SLATE

Culturebox

The Ebola Story

How our minds build narratives out of disaster.

The Budget Disaster That Completely Sabotaged the WHO’s Response to Ebola

PowerPoint Is the Worst, and Now It’s the Latest Way to Hack Into Your Computer

The Shooting Tragedies That Forged Canada’s Gun Politics

A Highly Unscientific Ranking of Crazy-Old German Beers

Education

Welcome to 13th Grade!

Some high schools are offering a fifth year. That’s a great idea.

Culturebox

The Actual World

“Mount Thoreau” and the naming of things in the wilderness.

Want Kids to Delay Sex? Let Planned Parenthood Teach Them Sex Ed.

Would You Trust Walmart to Provide Your Health Care? (You Should.)

  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 22 2014 9:42 PM Landslide Landrieu Can the Louisiana Democrat use the powers of incumbency to save herself one more time?
  Business
Continuously Operating
Oct. 22 2014 2:38 PM Crack Open an Old One A highly unscientific evaluation of Germany’s oldest breweries.
  Life
Dear Prudence
Oct. 23 2014 6:00 AM Monster Kids from poorer neighborhoods keep coming to trick-or-treat in mine. Do I have to give them candy?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 23 2014 8:51 AM The Male-Dominated Culture of Business in Tech Is Not Great for Women
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 22 2014 5:27 PM The Slate Walking Dead Podcast A spoiler-filled discussion of Episodes 1 and 2.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 23 2014 9:00 AM Exclusive Premiere: Key & Peele Imagines the Dark Side of the Make-A-Wish Program
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 22 2014 5:33 PM One More Reason Not to Use PowerPoint: It’s The Gateway for a Serious Windows Vulnerability
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 23 2014 7:30 AM Our Solar System and Galaxy … Seen by an Astronaut
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.