Filmmaker Roman Polanski, who pleaded guilty to unlawful intercourse with a minor in 1977 and has been in self-exile in France ever since, is making another effort to get himself reinstated as a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Feeling pressure from the #MeToo movement, the Academy kicked him out—along with Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby—in 2018.
Polanski maintains that his expulsion was invalid because he was not given an opportunity to present his case. In 2019, he had his lawyer Harland Braun file a lawsuit demanding that his membership be renewed. It reads in part:
“The Academy committed a prejudicial abuse of discretion in that the Academy failed to proceed in a manner required by law, the Academy’s expulsion decision is not supported by the findings, and the Academy’s findings are not supported by the evidence.”
It also lists his substantial achievements as a filmmaker, pointing out that his movies have been nominated for 28 Oscars.
Braun went on to argue that, according to Academy rules, the Pianist director should have had “10 days to present his side.”
“We want due process,” he stated. “That’s not asking too much of the Academy, is it?”
The Academy responded to Braun’s petition by calling Polanski’s expulsion “fair and reasonable” and stating that it “stands behind its decision as appropriate.” It did not explain why it waited more than 40 years to revoke Polanski’s membership.
The hearing is taking place today at Los Angeles Superior Court. But if Judge Mary Strobel’s tentative order is any indication, Polanski’s lawsuit is dead on arrival.
“Here, Petitioner was given the opportunity to present any evidence he deemed relevant to the Board’s consideration ‘of whether he should or should not remain a member of the Academy’ in light of his criminal conviction and fugitive status,” Strobel writes.
“Petitioner submitted more than 450 pages of documentary materials to the Board, including a 10-page brief by counsel and 23 exhibits. Petitioner also submitted a documentary DVD entitled Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired and a video statement of Petitioner to the Board… All of these materials were submitted to the Board prior to its deliberation at the December 11, 2018, and January 26, 2019, meetings.”
In other words, the judge is rejecting the entire basis of the suit, arguing that Polanski did in fact get due process. At any rate, I think I’ll go rewatch Chinatown now.