Disgraced director Roman Polanski continues to be embraced in Europe, despite his admitting to the statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl in 1977 and his history of other sexual abuse allegations, all of which has received renewed scrutiny because of the Me Too movement.
His next movie, “J’accuse,” will debut at the Venice Film Festival this fall, organizers announced Thursday.
It’s a glitzy honor, as the Venice event — which begins Aug. 28 — is among three major film festivals (the others being the Telluride and Toronto festivals) that are considered annual launching pads for movies contending for the Oscars.
“J’accuse,” which stars Oscar winner Jean Dujardin, depicts the infamous Dreyfus affair of the 1890s, when Alfred Dreyfus, a French Jewish military officer, was wrongly convicted of spying for the Germans.
The festival is giving Polanski and his film a major platform, despite his 1977 arrest and guilty plea for raping then-13-year-old Samantha Gailey (now known as Samantha Geimer) and several other sexual abuse allegations since then.
The Venice festival organizers have also faced criticism for a dearth of movies directed by women. This year’s competition lineup of 21 films contains only two directed by women — a slight increase from both 2017 and 2018, when there was just one each, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Polanski, the director of “Rosemary’s Baby,” “Chinatown” and “The Pianist,” has lived in exile in France since 1978, when he fled the U.S. to avoid being sentenced. Nevertheless, he won the Best Director Oscar for “The Pianist,” which came out in 2002. Earlier this year, he sued the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, organizers of the Oscars, over its 2018 vote to eject him from its membership. He has called the Me Too movement “total hypocrisy” and “collective hysteria.”
Meanwhile, writer-director Woody Allen, who allegedly abused his adopted daughter Dylan Farrow when she was a child, is currently filming his next movie in Spain. In the U.S., some Hollywood players have distanced themselves from Allen — including Amazon Studios, which had distributed several of his movies before cutting ties with him last year.
Need help? Visit RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Online Hotline or the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s website.