Film mogul Harvey Weinstein has got behind a campaign by French film-makers calling on US authorities not to extradite the Oscar-winning Polish director in connection with a charge of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor dating back more than three decades.
Weinstein entered the fray at the personal behest of Cannes film festival director Thierry Fremaux and will now use his considerable influence and campaigning heft to enlist the support of Hollywood.
“We’re calling on every film-maker we can to help fix this terrible situation,” Weinstein said, reviving a theme he adopted earlier in the year after he bought international distribution rights at Sundance to the HBO documentary Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired.
Film and political heavyweights – from Harvey Weinstein and Cannes Festival head Thierry Fremaux to the foreign ministers of France and Poland – have expressed outrage at Polanski’s arrest, which happened Saturday as he arrived in Switzerland to attend the Zurich Film Festival.
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner called the arrest “a bit sinister” and, together with his Polish counterpart Radoslaw Sikorski has written to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, asking her to intervene. The Polish Filmmakers Assn. also called for the release of Polanski, and has asked U.S. authorities to review the case.
The Zurich Film Festival jury donned red badges reading “Free Polanski” at a news conference Monday and accused Switzerland of “philistine collusion” in arresting Polanski.
“We hope today this latest order will be dropped. It is based on a three-decade-old case that is all but dead but for minor technicalities,” said jury president Debra Winger. “We stand by and wait for his release and his next masterwork.”
Cannes Film Festival president Gilles Jacob, Italian star Monica Bellucci and directors Costa-Gavras, Wong Kar Wai and Bertrand Tavernier are among the signatures on a petition demanding Polanski’s immediate release.
Harvey Weinstein has also lent his support to the cause after being approached by Cannes director Thierry Fremaux. It’s expected the Weinstein Co. boss will head up a Hollywood lobby fighting the extradition.