Roman Polanski cancels visit to Polish film school over protests | News | DW | 30.11.2019
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Roman Polanski cancels visit to Polish film school over protests

The French-Polish director called off the appearance after some students objected to his presence over several sexual abuse allegations. Polanski fled the US in 1978 while awaiting sentencing in a rape case.

The film director Roman Polanski called off a planned visit to a film school in his native Poland on Saturday after some students objected to his appearance because of outstanding sexual abuse allegations against him.

The 86-year-old, who is still a wanted man in the United States in a 42-year-old rape case, was due at the National Film School in Lodz.

The school, which Polanski had once attended, confirmed the cancelation was made at the director's request following an online petition, signed by more than 100 students, employees and graduates.

The petition claimed there were five outstanding allegations against Polanski, who is best known for movies such as "Chinatown," "Rosemary's Baby" and "The Pianist."

Read more: #MeToo and more — five hashtags for equality

School director Mariusz Grzegorzek had said at a film awards ceremony in Lodz on Friday that "99% of the students are awaiting his [Polanski's] visit" and that "it is not for us to issue sentences."

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Protest goes ahead

On Saturday, several people gathered to protest outside the school despite the cancelation, the tabloid Fakt reported.

The newspaper cited the protesters' Facebook page, saying the student activists refused to tolerate the culture of rape.

Polanski pleaded guilty to unlawful sex with a minor in California in 1977 in a plea bargain deal after he was accused of raping a 13-year-old girl.

But he fled the US before sentencing and has maintained his career as a renowned director in Europe.

Polanski was arrested while in Switzerland in 2009 at the request of US authorities, but he was later freed.

Read more: Placido Domingo resigns as general director of LA Opera after sexual harassment claims

New allegation

Earlier this month, French photographer Valentine Monnier accused Polanski of raping her in 1975, when she was 18, at his Swiss chalet, which he denies.

The accusation renewed criticism of the director, whose new film "An Officer and a Spy" was released in France earlier this month.

Protests erupted at cinemas in France and Belgium in opposition to the film's release.

Despite the film school furore, Polanski received a "rebellious filmmaker" award at the Cinergia European Cinema Forum in Lodz on Friday night. 

His latest film was also screened.

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