The Oscar-winning director Roman Polanski is bringing up a suit against the Academy of MotionOscar-winning & Sciences for its decision to have him expelled as a member. As a result of losing his credentials as a voting Oscar member Polanski is suing the Academy for wrongful removal. ““The Academy failed to comply with its own rules, policies, and regulations in expelling Petitioner without notice,” stated Polanski’s lawyer.
The removal is based upon the infamous case of Polanski being charged with statutory rape for having sex with a 13-year-old girl. The Hollywood community has been in a perpetual state of paradox the past couple of years. Following the exposure of the Harvey Weinstein sex scandal, the industry has attempted to fix its long-recognized troubles with institutionalized harassment and sexual abuses. It has not been a straight forward effort.
As the #MeToo movement became a mainstream movement many instances were reported of individuals found to be acting in predatory fashions. But at the same time the industry has been accused of apathy and/or permissiveness along the same lines, because of instances where the actions of other predators were not addressed. Roman Polanski has been one of those names brought up as an example of long term acceptance by those in the industry.
The director serves as a prime example of the conflicting challenges faced by those in the studio system. Polanski’s rape took place decades ago, becoming convicted of the charge and was jailed for just over one month, before reaching a plea deal that had him released on probation. Under suspicion that a judge would rescind that probation, Polanski fled to France and has never returned to the states, due to the case. All the while many in Hollywood have been supportive of Polanski returning and having his conviction vacated.
You see the way Polanski represents the challenges faced by the industry by one telling detail. Polanski raped the girl in 1977, but the Academy only moved to expel the director last summer. For forty years the man has been known to be both a rapist and a fugitive, yet he has still been permitted to work. His Oscar, for the film “The Piano”, was awarded to him in 2002. However the reality of the Academy attempting to support women and speaking out against predatory acts in their industry looked rather tone-deaf with a convicted rapist on it list of voting members.
Polanski’s legal team seems slightly oblivious. In the court filing they state, “The Academy’s expulsion decision is not supported by the findings, and the Academy’s findings are not supported by the evidence.” Small matter: not only was Polanski convicted of rape, he confessed to it. Seems difficult to absorb how the findings were not supported by evidence.
The Academy appears unfazed by the lawsuit. “The procedures taken to expel Mr. Polanski were fair and reasonable,” an Academy spokesperson said. Also, the claim that the expulsion somehow violates Academy standards is looking like a neutered charge as well.
“Any member of the Academy may be suspended or expelled for cause by the Board of Governors. Expulsion or suspension as herein provided for shall require the affirmative vote of not less than two-thirds of all the Governors.” There is no right to appeal an expulsion provided under this provision.
So the Academy eventually got around to doing the correct thing, addressing a rape conviction by one of its members after four decades. Of course, after all that time Polanski feels as if it is unfair for him to bear responsibility since he has been permitted to remain — and to work — all the while. He also has not had his Oscar win vacated, so the extent of his “punishment” is looking less than a stern position.