Producer and actor Luca Barbareschi is currently at the Venice Film Festival to promote Roman Polanski’s newest film, “The Palace.” The decision to include the movie at the festival has come under fire as Polanski has never addressed the charges of unlawful sex with a minor that were filed against him in the United States back in the 1970s.
Barbareschi explains, “I know the real story. I was there in 1975 and 1976.”
Barbareschi, who has been friends with Polanski for five decades, is adamant about his friend’s innocence and chalked up the accusations to the director’s purported sex appeal. He told Deadline, “I don’t think he ever raped anybody. He was a very sexy man and women were chasing him.”
The producer also blamed the moral and cultural standards of today for his friend’s ongoing legal troubles. He added, “I cannot speak for Roman, but the ’70s were not today. It was free sex for all. I could have a jail sentence for what I did in New York between 1974 and 1980 with the logic of today’s political correctness.”
As for allegations that Polanski drugged his victim before he raped her, Barbareschi appeared to suggest that the young girl took drugs voluntarily and with full consent.
He added, “Roman never gave drugs to anyone. Everybody was high. Everybody took quaaludes. It was a completely different time. Knowing Roman, Roman is the most gentle, and I insist on the word ‘gentle,’ the most gentle and sensitive man I have met in my life.”
The charges against Polanski pertain to the sexual abuse of a 13-year-old girl in 1977. The pair had participated in a photo shoot at Jack Nicholson’s home, where the director allegedly gave her a sedative and a glass of champagne before raping her. Polanski was indicted on charges of six felony counts and was ordered to undergo a 90-day diagnostic screening that ultimately recommended probation. He fled the United States the following year.
Since leaving the States, Polanski has refused to return to the U.S. France, Switzerland and Poland have each refused to extradite him at different points. In the years that followed, the director has faced arrest and potential extradition a number of times.
In June 2017, the victim in the case appeared before a judge and asked that the case be ended, but that request was rejected.
For Barbareschi, it appears that the true tragedy is his film will not be seen in the United States. He said, “The movie has been sold in Germany, Spain, Russia, Israel, Poland, Greece, a lot of places in Europe, but not America, not in the U.K., not in Australia, or New Zealand.”
Tragically, he added, “I don’t think it will get sold in America now, which I think is embarrassing for them.”
This isn’t the only film with a certain reputation at this year’s event. The festival also allowed Woody Allen’s “Coup de Chance,” despite decades of allegations that the director sexually abused his daughter Dylan Farrow.