The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences invited 928 entertainment industry professionals to join and while many were celebrating their invitation to the ever-changing Academy which is looking to be more inclusive, there is one invitee that didn’t want to jump on board: Emmanuelle Seigner.
Seigner, who is the wife of disgraced director Roman Polanski, was invited to join the Academy and responded with an incendiary letter that dragged the organization calling the invite an “offensive proposal” in an open letter that was posted in the French newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche.
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly actress did not hold back in the letter saying, “The Academy probably thinks I am enough of a spineless, social climbing actress that I would forget that I have been married for the past 29 years to one of the world’s greatest directors.”
She says that Polanski has been “cast out like a pariah” and adds that “these same nameless academicians think that I should ‘mount the steps of glory’ behind his back?””
She calls the invite was an insult and “insufferable hypocrisy.” She then digs into the press and the backlash Polanski faced since fleeing the country in 1978 where he awaited sentencing for statutory rape. He has pleaded guilty to having sex with a minor. Four women have since come forward with sexual assault accusations.
Seigner, who has been married to Polanski since 1989, writes that she is a feminist and stands up for her husband saying that he has written “unforgettable female characters.” And slams the Academy for expelling her husband “in an attempt to appease the zeitgeist.”
Polanski was ousted from the Academy alongside Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby in May. All three were accused of sexual misconduct.
Read her full letter below.
I have been asked by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) to join it, together with other actresses, in the cause of much-needed feminism. How could anyone doubt my concern for equality between men and women? I have always been a feminist. But how can I ignore the fact that a few weeks ago the Academy expelled my husband, Roman Polanski, in an attempt to appease the zeitgeist – the very same Academy which in 2002 awarded him an Oscar for The Pianist! A curious case of amnesia!
The Academy probably thinks I am enough of a spineless, social climbing actress that I would forget that I have been married for the past 29 years to one of the world’s greatest directors. I love him, he is my husband and the father of my children. He has been cast out like a pariah. Yet these same nameless academicians think that I should ‘mount the steps of glory’ behind his back? The insufferable hypocrisy! This proposal is one insult too many. I cannot remain silent any longer. You offend me whilst claiming to want to protect women!
I can no longer keep quiet about this affair which has transformed the life of my entire family since his arrest in Switzerland on 26 September 2009. We have two children, a son and a daughter. Roman has always been a loving father and a devoted husband. Ever since he was arrested he has been falsely slandered as a pervert. I am the only one who is able to testify just how much he regrets what happened 40 years ago.
And yet, I am powerless when the press publishes scandals he was supposedly involved in – false testimonies, tales of women who claim to have been raped and yet never pressed charges. Barely two weeks ago a website announced my husband’s imminent death!
Samantha Geimer, his one and only victim, has been asking for years for this case to be closed, yet the courts and the media still stubbornly refuse to listen to her. She was indignant when she heard that Roman had been thrown out of the Academy. But when you become a symbol, forgiveness is impossible.
I feel that all his life, from the Nazis of his childhood to the present day, Roman has been condemned to perpetual flight, without the slightest effort by any part of the media to look at his case with an open mind. On the contrary, they only seek to make it worse.
Roman Polanski is the creator of unforgettable female characters, portrayed by Sharon Tate, Catherine Deneuve, Mia Farrow, Faye Dunaway, Nastassja Kinski and Sigourney Weaver. He bears no resemblance to this caricature of maleness, this symptom of the evil that ravages cinema. And yet the Academy expects me not support this man?
Of course, artists are not exempt from justice. But it should be the same justice that exists for all, not a justice that goes back on its word and violates its own principles. That was the case in Los Angeles in 1977, when his first confinement in prison was supposed to be his punishment. Today, Roman has served more than the maximum sentence for the offence committed.
I can understand his distrust of the justice of men. It is not by chance that his favourite film is Odd Man Out, by Carol Reed.
Sometimes, I see the hurt in his eyes. Sometimes, he astounds me by his zest to live. Only the truth and these words that I have just written can ease my pain.
As for the members of the Academy, I have only one thing to say to them : this is one woman you won’t have.”