Roman Polanski Pulls Out Of Film Festival Over Backlash

Roman Polanski was recently given a lifetime achievement award by the Locarno Film Festival in Switzerland, where he was scheduled to “attend the 67th Locarno festival and give a masterclass on August 15 for festival goers and young filmmakers attending the Locarno Summer Academy.”

But apparently, a few busybodies didn’t appreciate the fact that the festival would bestow such a high honor on, you know, a guy who’s an international fugitive convicted of raping a 13-year-old girl. ¯_(ツ)_/¯ And now Mr. Polanski has pulled out of the festival. Way to ruin it for everyone, rape shamers!

In a statement released by the Locarno festival, Polanski said: “Dear Friends, I am sorry to inform you that having considered the extent to which my planned appearance at the Locarno Festival provokes tensions and controversies among those opposed to my visit, even as I respect their opinions, it is with a heavy heart that I must cancel my visit. I am deeply saddened to disappoint you.”

It’s a little weird when Polanski himself seems to understand the backlash a lot better than the people honoring him.

Polanski was also scheduled to introduce his most recent film, Venus in Fur, at an outdoor screening in Locarno’s Piazza Grande on Thursday, accompanied by the film’s star, Polanski’s wife, Emmanuelle Seigner.

The Locarno Festival called the opposition to Polanski’s visit “unacceptable interference of some in the artistic liberty of the festival.” It added: “We are greatly saddened that the public will thereby be deprived of an important opportunity for cultural enrichment.”

Locarno added that it “continues to affirm its commitment to the principle of free and unfettered artistic expression.” [THR]

Could you make some kind of case for allowing Roman Polanski to be honored at your film festival? Eh… maybe. I sure can’t think of one, but I’m willing to admit a slight possibility. But to use “artistic expression” as a counter-argument to people upset about honoring a convicted rapist? Honestly, f*ck you.

“I’m sad because I think festival goers are losing a big opportunity to have him here,” Carlo Chatrian, artistic director of the Locarno Film Festival told The Hollywood Reporter. “It’s sad when an artist cannot express himself.”

Right, moron, as if the people were upset because “an artist was expressing himself” and not “a rapist was getting an award.” Frankly I’m shocked that the country who laundered money for the Nazis could be so tone deaf to public opinion.