Polanski retrospective angers French feminists

Paris (AFP) –


French feminists have voiced outrage over a planned retrospective of the films of director Roman Polanski, who has been accused of several sexual assaults, calling it "an insult" to women following the Harvey Weinstein scandal.

The retrospective is being organised by the Cinematheque Francaise, a major Paris-based film archive that is partly funded by the state.

Polanski, who is wanted in the United States for having unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl in 1977, is scheduled to attend the opening on Monday.

In a petition calling for the event to be cancelled, activist Laure Salmona said it was "indecent" to honour Polanski at a time when women are beginning to open up about sexual abuse and harassment in the wake of the allegations that toppled Hollywood producer Weinstein.

"It's an insult to all the women who mobilised around the #MeToo and #BalanceTonPorc (Expose the pig) hashtags and an affront to all rape victims, particularly Polanski's victims," she wrote.

"We're hungry for culture, not rape culture," she added in the petition on the Change.org website, which had been signed by more than 20,000 people by Friday.

The Cinematheque, which is headed by the Greek-French director Costa-Gavras, has ruled out pulling the retrospective, saying it does not intend to "take the place of the justice system".

Polanski has been a fugitive from the US justice system for four decades.

He pleaded guilty in 1977 to having unlawful sex with Samantha Geimer -- who was aged 13 at the time -- but fled the US before he could be sentenced.

All attempts to have him extradited back to the US to face justice have failed.

Earlier this month Swiss prosecutors confirmed they were investigating new rape allegations against Polanski made by a woman who said he assaulted her in a resort in the Swiss Alps in 1972.

The new claims bring to at least four the number of women who have publicly accused him of sexual assault.

A feminist association has called for a protest outside the Cinematheque during Polanski's appearance on Monday.

In January, the director was forced to pull out of presiding over the "French Oscars" -- the Cesars -- after feminist groups called for the awards to be boycotted.