Cannes 2010: Directors want Polanski exonerated

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Roman Polanski has gotten support from a broad range of Hollywood personalities. Now a few auteurs are joining the crowd, at the exact moment a spotlight is shining on them.

Bertrand Tavernier, Mathieu Amalric and Jean-Luc Godard — all of whom have films at this year’s Cannes Film Festival (‘La Princesse de Montpensier,’ ‘Tournee’ and ‘Socalisme,’ respectively) — are among those who have signed a petition asking the Swiss government to refuse an extradition request from California, just a few days after a California judge denied Polanski’s request to unseal testimony in the 33-year-old case.


The group wrote that it was aiming for ‘a gesture of solidarity accompanied by an appeal to Swiss justice’ and was ‘signed by film makers, and only film makers, who have in common that, like Godard, their works have been named as Official Selections of this year’s Cannes Film Festival.’ It seeks, the petition said, to free Polanski from ‘the Kafkaesque isolation that has been his lot for the past seven months.’

French philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy, on whose site the petition was first posted, added that ‘No matter how brilliant the films presented at this new festival, a man will shine in his blinding absence: Roman Polanski.’ (Of course Polanski would likely be absent even without the extradition request, as he has no new movie to show.)

Still, the petition does come from a group, and at an event, that has long been friendly to the beleaguered filmmaker. Polanski has premiered several movies here over his illustrious career, winning the Palme d’Or eight years ago for ‘The Pianist.’

It hasn’t come up yet, but you can bet at least some of the directors — both those who did and those who didn’t sign the petition — will be asked about Polanski as they promote their films. And when it does comes up, you can bet that many will be as passionate about the U.S. calling off the extradition as they are about the power of global cinema.

— Steven Zeitchik