Entertainment behind the scenes
Europeans celebrated and stunned U.S. officials vowed to try again to extradite director Roman Polanski if they ever find a “cooperative” jurisdiction in the future.
But where was Hollywood on Monday when Polanski finally won his freedom in Switzerland and avoided a showdown in California over the rape of a 13 year-old girl in 1977? Largely silent, despite having awarded Polanski a best director Oscar for his searing 2002 movie “The Pianist”, set in a World War Two ghetto.
For all the criticism in parts of the media of so-called Hollywood liberals, U.S. supporters of Polanski were hardly standing up to be counted on the day Switzerland rejected a U.S. bid to extradite the film director to face sentencing over having unlawful sex with a minor more than 30 years ago.
In Europe on the other hand, where Polanski has lived, made movies, and carried on as a living film legend, politicians and artists issued warm statements welcoming his return to the creative community and noting Polanski’s painful personal history as a man who escaped the Holocaust, only to see his pregnant wife murdered by followers of Charles Manson in 1969.
It's hard to watch France's political and cultural elite rush to support filmmaker Roman Polanski against extradition to the United States on a decades-old sex charge and not wonder exactly how they interpret the national motto "liberté, égalité, fraternité." It's tempting to ask whether they're defending the liberty to break the law and skip town, respecting the equality of all before the law and championing a brotherhood of artists who can do no wrong. (Photo: Roman Polanski, 19 Feb 2009/Hannibal Hanschke)
Here in Paris, Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner declared the arrest was "a bit sinister ... frankly, (arresting) a man of such talent recognised around the world, recognised in the country where he was arrested -- that's not very nice." He and his Polish counterpart have written to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about the issue. Culture Minister Frédéric Mitterrand said "just as there is a generous America that we like, there's also an America that scares us, and that's the America that has just shown us its face." Directors, actors and intellectuals have been signing a petition demanding Polanski's immediate release.