Let Loose The Dogs Of War

The furor about the Israel film petition at the Toronto Film Festival was not a frivolous debate. However, this new petition that Natalie has signed…well right now this is a real heated topic. It concerns director Roman Polanski’s crime from the 70’s, where he allegedly raped but at the very least did have sex with a minor. The judicial proceedings were completely ballsed up and thinking the judge was about to go back on his word, he fled for Europe.

I think it was last week when Roman was taken into custody in Switzerland and a number of filmmakers (ones that might be familiar include Steven Soderbergh, Tom Tykwer, Mike Nichols, Darren Aronofsky, Tilda Swinton, Wong Kar Wai, Isabelle Adjani, Michael Mann, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Pedro Almodovar, Harrison Ford and Monica Bellucci) have expressed their discontent with how this is all playing out and there are a few petitions going around.

Now Natalie has put her name on one of the petitions, which you can read in full after the jump.

Apprehended like a common terrorist Saturday evening, September 26, as he came to receive a prize for his entire body of work, Roman Polanski now sleeps in prison.

He risks extradition to the United States for an episode that happened years ago and whose principal plaintiff repeatedly and emphatically declares she has put it behind her and abandoned any wish for legal proceedings.

Seventy-six years old, a survivor of Nazism and of Stalinist persecutions in Poland, Roman Polanski risks spending the rest of his life in jail for deeds which would be beyond the statute-of-limitations in Europe.

We ask the Swiss courts to free him immediately and not to turn this ingenious filmmaker into a martyr of a politico-legal imbroglio that is unworthy of two democracies like Switzerland and the United States. Good sense, as well as honor, require it.

Now, I can respect that this case is…complicated. In fact, on another forum I’ve spent a large part of the week arguing on behalf of Polanski. There are a lot of mitigating circumstances that don’t condone or excuse what he did but certainly put the case in murkier waters.

Largely I was responding to the “he’s a monster” type of comments that are all too evident in response to this case. Thankfully, the forum where I posted has a really good bunch of people and despite the topic being a VERY tough one, the discussion mostly remained above board.

Having said that, I’m not thrilled with the wording of that petition. I think there is a case to be made but, perhaps because of brevity, certain things that should be in there…aren’t.

Top of that list should be the crime itself. As much as I dislike the mob mentality, this goes too far in the other direction. Perhaps the writer, philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy, didn’t want to make it sound like he excuses the crime itself and wants to simply focus on what is happening now. But surely in leaving it out of the statement, that’s exactly whats happening.

I would genuinely love to hear some of these filmmakers talk about their reasons for supporting Polanski. And I’m not being disingenuous when I say that. There are some exceptionally bright and socially aware people on that list and I think what they have to say would be very interesting indeed.

That goes double for Natalie. She worked with Polanski for the art project, Greed, and I wonder how much her personal experience of the man has informed her position.

I think this one has a long way to run. I just hope that one way or the other, this can be settled and the victim can finally get the peace she’s been crying out for, for over 3 decades now.

I know this is a very volatile subject so I want to make this clear – think very carefully before leaving a comment. If you are too heated one way or the other, step away from the keyboard. There’s a saying in football/soccer that goes, “play the ball, not the man” and along those lines I’m not going to accept any personal attacks against Natalie, Roman, the victim, the victims mom, or fellow Nat fans.