Venice Film Festival jury president Lucrecia Martel has clarified comments she made regarding Roman Polanski’s competition film An Officer And A Spy during today’s opening press conference, saying this evening they “were deeply misunderstood.” Speaking to the press corps through a translator earlier today, the Argentine director was understood to say that she did not plan on attending a dinner organized for the movie and would “not congratulate” Polanski.
The festival, which has been taking heat for including the movie, has now released a statement in which Martel says, “I don’t have any prejudice towards (the film) and of course I will watch the film like any other in the competition. If I had any prejudice, I would have resigned my duty as the president of the jury.” (See her statement in full below.)
The selection of An Officer And A Spy was a key talking point at today’s press conference, and has been expected to be a major hot-button issue here, even before the proceedings officially kick off this evening.
In other comments Martel made during the press conference, she was translated from Spanish as saying, “I don’t separate the man from the art. I think that important aspects of the work emerges in the man.” Referring to Polanski’s 1977 conviction for unlawful sex with a minor and the case’s aftermath, Martel said, “A man who commits a crime of this size who is then condemned, and the victim considers herself satisfied with the compensation is difficult for me judge… It is difficult to define what is the right approach we have to take with people who have committed certain acts and were judged for them. I think these questions are part of the debate in our times.”
She had added, “I think it is correct that his movie is here at this festival, we have to develop our dialogue with (Polanski) and this is the best possible place to go on with this type of discussion.”
Here is Martel’s full clarification statement released this evening local time:
“According to some reports after today’s press conference, I believe my words were deeply misunderstood.
Since I don’t separate the work from the author and I have recognized a lot of humanity in Polanski’s previous films, I am not opposed to the presence of the film in competition.
I don’t have any prejudice towards it and of course I will watch the film like any other in the competition.
If I had any prejudice, I would have resigned my duty as the president of the jury.”