It seems odd that either the Locarno Film Festival or Roman Polanski thought that honoring the filmmaker for lifetime achievement would be a good idea. This is the second recent time — after Woody Allen’s Golden Globe tribute was followed by a phalanx of nasty tweets from his ex-wife Mia Farrow and estranged biological son Ronan Farrow — that an award sparked more shame than honor on its recipient.
Citing “unacceptable interference of some in the artistic liberty of the Festival,” Locarno announced today that Polanski pulled out of the Swiss fest’s 67th edition scheduled for later this week. This followed threats that protests would result at the festival over Polanski’s decades-old decision to flee the U.S. on charges of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor. He hasn’t been back to the U.S. since and likely won’t, as he is now 80. It’s hard to imagine him thinking he’d get any other kind of greeting. He ought to know; Polanski was arrested five years ago on the way to accept a lifetime achievement prize in Zurich.
Polanski, who would have premiered his new film Venus In Fur, issued the following statement:
I am sorry to inform you that having considered the extent to which my planned appearance at the Locarno Festival provokes tensions and controversies among those opposed to my visit, even as I respect their opinions, it is with a heavy heart that I must cancel my visit.
I am deeply saddened to disappoint you.
This was the announcement from Locarno Film Festival Artistic Director Carlo Chatrian: