Roman Polanski sues Academy Awards organisation asking it to reinstate his membership

Friday’s filing says that by not allowing Polanski and his lawyer to argue his case in person, the Academy violated its own rules

Clémence Michallon
New York
Friday 19 April 2019 22:16
Roman Polanski poses during a photocall at the Cinematheque in Paris on 30 October, 2017.
Roman Polanski poses during a photocall at the Cinematheque in Paris on 30 October, 2017.

Roman Polanski has sued the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to restore his membership, after he was expelled last year.

Lawyers for the 85-year-old director filed documents on Friday requesting that a court compel the Academy to make him a member in good standing again.

Nearly a year ago, the organisation made the rare move of expelling Polanski and Bill Cosby. The Academy then rejected Polanski’s appeal of the decision.

Friday’s filing says that by not allowing Polanski and his lawyer to argue his case in person, the Academy violated its own rules.

The filmmaker pleaded guilty to unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl in 1977. He then fled the US while awaiting sentencing the following year.

Polanski, who is now based in France, has been a fugitive for more than 40 years.

Friday’s filing includes a copy of a letter dated 31 December, 1968, in which then-president Gregory Peck welcomed him to the academy.

Also attached is a letter dated 3 May, 2018 from the Academy’s board of governors, informing Polanski of his dismissal.

“The Board continues to encourage ethical standards that require members to uphold the Academy’s values of respect for human dignity, and is categorically opposed to any form of abuse or harassment,” the missive states in part.

Polanski's attorney Harland Braun told The Independent: "If you notice, we are litigating the fairness of their procedure. They threw him out without warning and without giving him a chance to respond. There was not even any notice of why. After 40 years on the same day as Cosby. Give me a break."

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The Independent has contacted the Academy for comment.

Additional reporting by agencies

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