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

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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.

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[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.]

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

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