Veteran filmmakers Marco Bellocchio, Wim Wenders, and Claude Lelouch; Oscar winners Woody Allen, Martin Scorsese, and Pedro Almodóvar; the French Film Academy; the Cannes Film Festival; and hundreds of other individuals and organizations have signed a petition demanding the release of Roman Polanski, who was arrested by Swiss police – at the behest of the American Justice Department – following his arrival at the Zurich airport on Sept. 26. Polanski was headed to the Zurich Film Festival, where he was to have received a Lifetime Achievement Award.
In 1978, Polanski pleaded guilty to having unlawful intercourse with a minor (13-year-old Samantha Gailey, now Geimer) at a Los Angeles court, but fled to France before he could be sentenced. His court case was the subject of Marina Zenovich’s 2008 documentary Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired, which examines improprieties and unethical conduct on the part of those involved in the case, including both the judge and the prosecutors.
Organized by France’s Société des Auteurs et Compositeurs Dramatiques (SACD), the petition’s signatories cover the four corners of the globe – it’s not at all a “Hollywood” petition, as some insist on calling it – from Mexicans Guillermo del Toro, Alfonso Cuarón, and Alejandro González Iñárritu to Brazilian Walter Salles to Malinese Souleymane Cissé to Americans Michael Mann and Ethan Coen to Chinese filmmaker Wong Kar-Wai to British filmmaker Stephen Frears to Dane Henning Carlsen to Italian Michele Placido to Croatian Radovan Tadic to Canadian Xavier Dolan to politically persecuted Chilean author and human rights activist Ariel Dorfman.
Among the other signatories are:
Veteran filmmakers Alexandre Astruc, Michel Deville, David Lynch, Ettore Scola, Mario Monicelli, and Bertrand Tavernier; veteran screenwriter Lorenzo Semple Jr; Academy Award winners Costa-Gavras, Giuseppe Tornatore, Adrien Brody, Bernardo Bertolucci, Penélope Cruz, Tilda Swinton, Alexander Payne, Fernando Trueba, Ronald Harwood, Danis Tanovic, and Jonathan Demme; screen legend Jeanne Moreau; European Film Award winner Matteo Garrone; actresses Carole Laure, Monica Bellucci, Ludivine Sagnier, Fanny Ardant, Anne Consigny, Stéphanie Murat, Sylvia Kristel, and Asia Argento; actors Gael Garcia Bernal, Robert Hossein, Jean Douchet, Michel Piccoli, and Jacques Perrin; playwright-actress Yasmine Reza; and composers Alexandre Desplat and Vangelis.
Also, filmmakers Fatih Akin, Gianni Amelio, Wes Anderson, Jean-Jacques Annaud, Darren Aronofsky, Olivier Assayas, Christophe Barratier, Juan Antonio Bayona, Jean-Jacques Beineix, Djamel Bennecib, Alain Berliner, Christian Carion, Jean-Michel Carré, Patrice Chéreau, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, Bruno de Almeida, Fabrice du Welz, Sam Gabarski, Tony Gatlif, Terry Gilliam, and Laurent Heynemann.
And more: filmmakers Just Jaeckin, Arthur Joffé, Harmony Korinne, Diane Kurys, Emir Kusturica, John Landis, Claude Lanzmann, David Lanzmann, Patrice Leconte, Tonie Marshall, Radu Mihaileanu, Claude Miller, Jean-Paul Rappeneau, Brett Ratner, Jerry Schatzberg, Julian Schnabel, Barbet Schroeder, Paolo Sorrentino, Jean-Charles Tacchella, André Techiné, Nadine Trintignant, Tom Tykwer, and Terry Zwigoff.
Plus film editor Hervé de Luze; screenwriter Pierre Jolivet; actor-screenwriter Buck Henry; producer Jean Labadie; Alberto Barbera of Turin’s National Museum of Cinema; Cannes Film Festival director Gilles Jacob; Gianluca Farinelli of the Bologna Cinematheque; LA Weekly and Village Voice film critic Scott Foundas; Kent Jones of the World Cinema Foundation; New York Film Festival director Richard Pena; Polanski biographer Alexandre Tylski; the Belgian Association of Filmmakers; the French Cinematheque; France’s National Union of Film and Television Technicians; the film company Pathé; and the crew of Polanski’s latest film, Ghost.
Additionally, actors Louis Garrel, Isabelle Adjani, Elsa Zylberstein, and Isabelle Huppert; filmmakers Danièle Thompson, Steven Soderbergh, Neil Jordan, Sam Mendes, Taylor Hackford, and Mike Nichols; formerly persecuted writer Salman Rushdie; author Milan Kundera; and stylist Diane von Furstenberg have signed another "Free Polanski” petition organized by writer-philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy.
And finally, Wenders, Tavernier, Volker Schloendorff, Victoria Abril, Peter Suschitzky, and Jean-Claude Carrière signed the following:
“As members of the European Film Academy and the European film community we protest at the arbitrary treatment of one of the world’s most outstanding film directors. We declare our deep respect for our colleague and friend Roman Polanski and we demand his immediate release.”
Polanski’s attorneys have vowed to fight his extradition to the United States, where he’s wanted on a charge of statutory rape.
Below is the petition. A full list of signatories, as published on the SACD website, can be found on the next page.
Petition for Roman Polanski
We have learned the astonishing news of Roman Polanski’s arrest by the Swiss police on September 26th, upon arrival in Zurich (Switzerland) while on his way to a film festival where he was due to receive an award for his career in filmmaking.
His arrest follows an American arrest warrant dating from 1978 against the filmmaker, in a case of morals.
Filmmakers in France, in Europe, in the United States and around the world are dismayed by this decision. It seems inadmissible to them that an international cultural event, paying homage to one of the greatest contemporary filmmakers, is used by the police to apprehend him.
By their extraterritorial nature, film festivals the world over have always permitted works to be shown and for filmmakers to present them freely and safely, even when certain States opposed this.
The arrest of Roman Polanski in a neutral country, where he assumed he could travel without hindrance, undermines this tradition: it opens the way for actions of which no-one [sic] can know the effects.
Roman Polanski is a French citizen, a renown [sic] and international artist now facing extradition. This extradition, if it takes place, will be heavy in consequences and will take away his freedom.
Filmmakers, actors, producers and technicians everyone involved in international filmmaking want him to know that he has their support and friendship.
On September 16th, 2009, Mr. Charles Rivkin, the US Ambassador to France, received French artists and intellectuals at the embassy. He presented to them the new Minister Counselor for Public Affairs at the embassy, Ms Judith Baroody. In perfect French she lauded the Franco-American friendship and recommended the development of cultural relations between our two countries.
If only in the name of this friendship between our two countries, we demand the immediate release of Roman Polanski.