Roman Polanski film tops French box office despite rape claim

Al Jazeera 3 weeks ago

Roman Polanski's new film is topping the French box office despite a new rape allegation against the controversial director.

An Officer and a Spy surged ahead of the Matt Damon racing car epic Ford v Ferrari - which is top of the US box office - despite the publicity campaign for the movie being suspended in the wake of the latest claims against the veteran film-maker.

French photographer Valentine Monnier threw the release of the historical thriller about the Dreyfus Affair into disarray by accusing Polanski of raping her in 1975 when she was 18 after beating her "into submission" at his Swiss chalet.

But despite protests outside cinemas and a call by feminists to boycott the movie starring Oscar-winning actor Jean Dujardin, nearly 400,000 people flocked to see it by late Monday.    

Polanski, 86, denies attacking Monnier, a former model and actress, and has threatened to sue his accusers.  

The unexpectedly strong turnout for the film is the seventh best opening weekend by a French film in 2019, according to figures from CBO Box-Office.

Its success angered critics of the French-Polish maker of Rosemary's Baby and Chinatown, who has been a fugitive from US justice since admitting to the statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl in 1977 in a plea bargain to avoid a trial on more serious charges.     

Melissa Silverstein, the American founder of Women and Hollywood, was scathing in the response to the film. "WTF France?" she tweeted.

'Heads in the ground'   

Silverstein denounced organisers of the Venice film festival earlier this year for selecting the film, which went on to win the Silver Lion and the critics' prize despite the head of the jury, Argentine film-maker Lucrecia Martel, admitting she was "uncomfortable" about Polanski.

Industry insiders said An Officer and a Spy, based on the anti-Semitic persecution of the French Jewish army officer Alfred Dreyfus, might have done even better had it not been for the new rape claim.

They told the film industry publication Variety the movie's success was clearly driven by word-of-mouth, and its strong run in cinemas will continue.

As the box office figures were released on Monday, the French directors guild ARP passed a proposal that could see Polanski suspended from the organisation next year when its members meet to discuss a rule change on sexual abuse claims.

"We cannot put our heads in the ground and pretend that the world hasn't changed," said Pierre Jolivet, the head of the ARP.

Polanski has already been expelled from the US Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, although he mounted a legal challenge to the decision.

Meanwhile, veteran French director Nadine Trintignant rowed back on her earlier support for the veteran director after saying she was "more inclined to believe him than a woman who has taken 44 years to think about denouncing him".

In a new statement, the mother of the actress Marie Trintignant - who was killed by her pop-star boyfriend Bertrand Cantat in 2003 - insisted she supported all women who "courageously struggle to stop violence against women". 

It came after her family - one of France's theatrical dynasties - said they "believed Monnier" and without naming Polanski, stressed "even an immense artist is first of all a human being".


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Film Director Roman Polanski, who fled the United States for France in 1978 after admitting to the rape of a 13-year-old girl, is facing yet another sexual assault allegation against him.
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FRENCH actress Valentine Monnier has said she feared being murdered by the film director Roman Polanski after he allegedly raped her when she was a teenager. Ms Monnier waived her right to anonymity so as to describe her ordeal just as Polanski, 86...
Daily Mail Online › 3 weeks ago
'An Officer and a Spy,' the newest movie from Roman Polanski, 86. is a commercial success in France in spite of new claims of sexual assault made against the director by Valentine Monnier.
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A row over rape claims against Roman Polanski deepened on Wednesday after a well-known female director cast doubt over the allegations because the controversial French-Polish filmmaker had a “beautiful wife”.
Breitbart › Entertainment › 1 month ago
Film director Roman Polanski is facing a fresh rape accusation from a French woman claiming that he violently raped her back in 1975.
Raw Story › 1 month ago
Roman Polanski may sue the French newspaper that published accusations he raped a former actress in the 1970s, his lawyer said Sunday, as he comes under renewed fire over the latest claim of sexual assault to emerge against the Oscar-winning director...
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Protesters disrupted the first screening in France of Roman Polanski's new film on Tuesday, following the publication of a new rape accusation against the French-Polish director.
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