Wednesday Nov 20, 2019
BRUSSELS: Feminist activists protested at cinemas in Brussels with condemnations of the latest film of director Roman Polanski, accused of rape, overnight on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The French-Polish filmmaker pleaded guilty to unlawful sex with a minor in California in 1977, in a plea deal after he was accused of raping a 13-year-old girl.
But he fled the United States before sentencing and has maintained his career as a renowned director in Europe, despite another recent accusation of sexual misconduct.
"Polanski rapist! Guilty cinema! Complicit audience!" read signs plastered over the doors and walls of three cinemas in the Belgian capital.
A picture of 86-year-old Polanski was defaced with further allegations and "Leave the girls alone", the tag of the feminist collective "Laisse les filles tranquilles".
In a statement, the group declared that by showing Polanksi's film about France's Dreyfus affair An Officer and a Spy — "J'accuse" in French — cinemas are abetting his quest for absolution.
The opening of the film this month has also been disrupted by protests in neighbouring France, where some showings were cancelled but the film was still being screened in Belgium.
Management at one of the targeted theatres, the Palace, said it would try to organise a public debate around the question of whether or not it was appropriate to show the film.
Shortly before the film opened, French photographer Valentine Monnier accused Polanski of raping her in 1975 when she was 18 after beating her at his Swiss chalet.
Polanski denies the allegation, and has threatened to sue.