Cannes Festival Dismayed by New Polanski Charge (updated)

Cultural figures who defended the director earlier this week seemed at a loss

Read full Cannes coverage at Report From Cannes  and WaxWord Cannes.


Director Woody Allen continued to defend Polanski when questioned about his colleague on French radio.

Allen said Polanski "was embarrassed by the whole thing," ''has suffered" and "has paid his dues." He said Polanski is "an artist and is a nice person" who "did something wrong and he paid for it."

But according to the AP, it was unclear whether Allen was aware of the new allegations when he made the remarks on France Info radio from the Cannes Film Festival. Allen had previously signed a petition calling for Polanski's release.


The Cannes Film Festival reacted in dismay to the news that Roman Polanski had been accused of sexually molesting a teenager in 1982.

European directors and cultural figures seemed at a loss for words, given that they had only just spoken up in Polanski’s defense less than a week ago at the behest of leading French intellectual Bernard Henri-Levy. (See: Cannes Directors Offer Support to Polanski)

Speaking on RTL radio, the president of the festival Gilles Jacob said: “No one is immune from the law,” while noting that Polanski is an “immensely important filmmaker.”

“It’s really not up to us,” Jacob said. ”We don’t know the case, it’s not up to us to judge.”

Meanwhile, two members of the jury seemed similarly at a loss to state their opinions. “I would hope that this new development, so late and so outrageous, will not weaken Polanski’s case,” said Emmanuel Carrere, a jury member, also on RTL.

And Italian actress Giovanna Mezzogiorno said she did not know enough about the matter to express an opinion.

Meanwhile, jury president Tim Burton had been accused by the French media of insufficiently defending Polanski. But American directors seem notably less eager to jump to Polanski’s defense now than they did upon his arrest in Switzerland last year.

At a news conference in Los Angeles on Friday, Charlotte Lewis, now 42, accused Polanski of molesting her when she was 16, in 1982.

In Paris, Polanski attorney Georges Klejman threatened to sue Lewis if she contined to make her accusations.

“I’m absolutely outraged at her statements,” he told French television i-Tele. “If she reiterates them and when I learn more about it, it is likely that we will sue her.” 

Read also: British Actress: 'Polanski Molested Me When I Was 16'

Read full Cannes coverage at Report From Cannes  and WaxWord Cannes.