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Roman Polanski season at BFI

(140 Posts)
BelleCurve Sun 30-Dec-12 15:58:37

I think it is awful that the BFI is organising a retrospective to celebrate child rapist Roman Polanski - any MNers want to campaign against it?

LRDtheFeministDragon Thu 03-Jan-13 16:04:49

Censorship is something imposed by the state, isn't it? It's not response to pressure from individuals - that's just market forces at work.

I do get what you're saying, floaty, I just don't think it's censorship and I do feel that there is a wide issue with the way that that term gets a certain knee-jerk response in some circles. I cannot count the number of times I've heard someone accuse feminists of 'censorship'. It's 'censorship' to want women-only meetings. It's 'censorship' to object to women being heckled or taunted on marches. It's 'censorship' to object to misogynistic writers being taught.

I do feel it is a word that is (irony meter going through the roof) used to shut women up.

The BFI get to choose who they celebrate, and it is an honour. I don't see how that is ok.

LRDtheFeministDragon Thu 03-Jan-13 16:05:50

*well, 'the state or a governing body', I guess. I mean, I don't think you can talk about 'censorship' unless it's carried out by an authoritative figure, can you? confused

ElephantsAndMiasmas Thu 03-Jan-13 16:19:45

Well, quite LRD. If a friend did or said something objectionable I could ask them to stop doing it or decide to limit/end our friendship based on their behaviour, even tell people what they were doing in an effort to get them to stop it. That's not censorship. Facebook (for instance) summarily removing pictures of breastfeeding women is censorship. There's a power relationship there.

Love this - made me snort: "I do feel it is a word that is (irony meter going through the roof) used to shut women up." Agree.

Anyway, the question is, what can we do about it? Is there a link to the facebook page?

AbigailAdams Thu 03-Jan-13 16:23:24

Here is the link to the BFI FB page.

There is a thread on there where the BFI have "explained" what they were thinking of - mainly that they weren't, in fact doing any kind of critical thinking.

LRDtheFeministDragon Thu 03-Jan-13 16:24:21

Exactly, elephants.

I can't help feeling (and this is a general rant, not a go at you, floaty) that when people claim feminists are 'censoring' things it is rather bitterly ironic, because women typically do not have the institutionalized power structures to do that.

BFI's facebook page is here.

JustAHolyFool Thu 03-Jan-13 16:25:48

I do get what you're saying Floaty , I just don't think that something being good is grounds for supporting and actively promoting someone who has escaped punishment for a horrible crime.

FloatyBeatie Thu 03-Jan-13 16:39:01

I don't think that the concept of censorship implies an particular source for the suppression of expression -- state or whatever -- only the suppression itself. But I'm not particularly attached to the word, if you want to call it something else. (A semantic digression wouldn't be very helpful I think.)

I suppose that the word censorship does have the disadvantage of seeming to imply a primary concern with free speech/free expression. That's not my primary concern. I'm more concerned with preserving an experience of culture that isn't limited to the products of people whom we deem acceptable. Plenty of bad people are good artists. We'd have to cut an awful lot of holes in our reading, viewing, etc to avoid them all consistently. And we would be the worse for it, I think. Don't you think there is value in being constantly challenged by a very conflicted experience of artistic value, as we are when we see something excellent produced by someone bad or flawed, or (even more challengingly) when we see something excellent in an artwork that is itself morally flawed?

LRDtheFeministDragon Thu 03-Jan-13 16:44:20

Ok, fair enough, and I take your point. I think I am reacting to the specific word.

But, leaving that aside - sure, plenty of bad people are good artists. But there's nothing stopping BFI from saying that upfront. Instead they insist they won't comment or judge, which I feel is really out of line. It's saying, they won't judge - therefore, they are valuing this man over his victims. IMO.

If they'd shown the films but acknowledged their maker was really problematic, I would have respect for that.

I think there's huge value in being challenged morally or aesthetically - but I don't see that that is what is happening here. I think what is happening here is simply that some people don't like to accept that a rapist is a rapist, or that someone who makes 'good films' may still be a bad person. That seems to me the opposite of 'challenge'.

ElephantsAndMiasmas Thu 03-Jan-13 17:04:05

I wish I could hack the BFI website and insert the words "after admitting raping a child" at the end of this sentence: "Roman Polanski undertook Tess, in memory of his murdered wife Sharon Tate, when seeking refuge in Paris after fleeing the USA".

LRDtheFeministDragon Thu 03-Jan-13 17:31:59

grin That would be excellent.

MooncupGoddess Thu 03-Jan-13 19:27:02

Gosh, that biog is very weaselly, isn't it? The fact that they don't reference the rape at all demonstrates that they just want to brush the whole thing under the carpet.

If the BFI waited until Polanski was dead and then did a retrospective season in which they acknowledged upfront what he had done and his attitudes to women and presented his oeuvre in that context I wouldn't have a problem with it. It's the sticking head in sand approach that is so offensive here.

(I also think that celebrating a fugitive from justice is wrong - we have the rule of law for a reason.)

LRDtheFeministDragon Thu 03-Jan-13 19:32:05

I feel the same mooncup.

I don't know if this is valid, but I also feel that it's a bad attitude given the kind of crime.

There are crimes that are horrific, but also widely condemned. I don't know what he did, but there's a man who used to write for the Guardian - Erwin James - who had served a life sentence. I didn't feel uncomfortable reading his work because I understood that the Guardian were trying to give some perspective into what it's like, and the writer was trying to show he'd really learned.

With Polanski, who's never really been punished for raping underage girls, it is not the same - rape as a crime isn't something that is as widely condemned as it should be. So the fact they are giving him a platform and honouring his work, contributes to the idea that rape is not really a serious crime and rapists are often 'perfectly nice' men.

FestiviaBlueberry Thu 03-Jan-13 19:50:50

I don't object to them doing a retrospective.

I object to them doing it without any reference to the fact that he's a rapist.

Whenever there's a big retro on Wagner, there's a huge amount of discussion and acknowledgement about his anti-semitism. It isn't swept under the carpet, the way this child-rapist's crimes are.

Shitty BFI for not having the guts to address it properly.

PiccadillyCervix Thu 03-Jan-13 20:57:39

cencorship in my opinoin is when the laws and the powers that be forbid you to show something.

This is capitalism. Consumers telling someone they don't want shite spewed out in a public forum and that they won't purchase it. This is no different to writing to ASDA and saying you would prefer they stop selling poly/blend baby pajamas.

PiccadillyCervix Thu 03-Jan-13 21:00:14

As has been said several times blush didn't see there was a second page!

PiccadillyCervix Thu 03-Jan-13 21:04:15

"Roman Polanski undertook Tess, in memory of his murdered wife Sharon Tate, when seeking refuge in Paris after fleeing the USA

That sentence makes it sound like he was some abused prisoner of war in the US doesn't it? Not just a rapist who didn't want to go to jail

hellsbells76 Thu 03-Jan-13 23:41:51

This has made me really fucking angry. The writer of that evasive piece of crap (Geoff Andrew) has form for this. This came from a similarly minimising Graun article from 2005:

"I like the man," says Geoff Andrew, the National Film Theatre's programmer, who has met and interviewed Polanski many times. "He always struck me as a very genuine sort of guy, a very courteous and a very old-fashioned person."

Geoff Andrew is now head of the BFI film programme. So it's all pals together, it seems. Who gives a damn about the child Polanski raped?

hellsbells76 Thu 03-Jan-13 23:45:25

Actually, just do a google of Geoff Andrew and Roman Polanski. The man couldn't have his head any further up Polanski's arse if he tried.

DoctorAnge Thu 03-Jan-13 23:53:36

This is appalling.
The film Industry is a misogynistic old boys club. I remember the standing ovation for him led by Martin Scorsese at the oscars one year. A fucking standing ovation for someone who drugged and raped a child.
Can we put something out on twitter about this?

hellsbells76 Fri 04-Jan-13 00:09:12

I don't do twitter but I've left a couple of messages on their fb. Would be well up for picketing some of the season too. (the screening of 'Repulsion' might be an appropriate one, if only for its name...)

DoctorAnge Fri 04-Jan-13 00:15:41

I'm in if I can help.
I know it may not be relevant but look at what is happening in India. The world is changing and these institutions ( film , BBC ) need to change too. Rape is never acceptable! Talented and charming men are rapists too that doesn't exonerate them somehow from their henious crime angry

NotOnTheBeach Fri 04-Jan-13 00:28:09

The films are good and should be shown, as part of regular programming, when there is a demand.

But bringing them together in a RP season celebrates the man himself, not the films as stand alone objects of art.

I won't be going and I think it arrogant of the BFI to decide to focus on the man and celebrate him as an individual. I think mock-up BFI flyers announcing a JS season by the BFI would be a suitable response.

The films should be shown, not surpressed, but meanwhile the man should be brought to justice.

NotOnTheBeach Fri 04-Jan-13 00:32:21

I wish I could hack the BFI website and insert the words "after admitting raping a child" at the end of this sentence: "Roman Polanski undertook Tess, in memory of his murdered wife Sharon Tate, when seeking refuge in Paris after fleeing the USA".

Is it possible to copy pages from the BFI website and adjust the sentence thus, and then re-publish the page as a separate website that would come up in a Google search?

Oh, hello BFI publicity team - welcome to MN smile

(Publicity depts always know what's being said on the 'net)

FestiviaBlueberry Fri 04-Jan-13 09:32:11

OMG that is so nauseating, imagine being a rape survivor in that crowd cheering on a rapist. Some of the women there, would have been (maybe some of the men). Imagine the level of cognitive dissonance and denial they have to employ, to be around rape-celebrating shit like that.

DoctorAnge Fri 04-Jan-13 10:33:06

nauseating indeed shocking

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