General News

Polanski Won't Attend Oscars

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Mar 18, 2003 | 10:55am EST

The announcement of Roman Polanski's Academy Award nomination for his Holocaust drama The Pianist raised the question of whether the internationally renowned filmmaker will show up at the ceremony, a question the director answered Tuesday.

Jeff Berg, Polanski's agent, told Reuters that the filmmaker would not be attending the ceremony. "He has no plans to come to the Unites States," Berg said. "He lives in Europe, and his home is there, and the legal issues are unresolved, and he has no plans for returning."

In a brief statement issued through The Pianist's U.S. film distributor, Focus Features, Polanski was silent about his legal predicament, saying: "I am deeply honored by these nominations and regard them as a tribute to all those who made such fine contributions to The Pianist."

In 1977, Polanski was arrested in California on charges of having unlawful sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old girl. He spent 42 days under psychiatric observation in Chino, Calif., in compliance with a plea bargain. Polanski fled the United States before further criminal proceedings could get underway.

According to Reuters, the victim at the center of the 25-year-old statutory rape case against him is now a married mother of three living in Hawaii. She said she forgives Polanski and believes his exile from Hollywood has been punishment enough. A civil suit brought by the girl's family was eventually settled.

Polanski, 69, was originally indicted on six counts, including rape, for having sex with a 13-year-old girl while she was under the influence of alcohol and drugs. He insisted the sex was consensual but pleaded guilty to one count of having sex with a minor, punishable by up to 20 years in prison. He fled to the U.S. shortly before sentencing.

This was not Polanski's first brush with tragedy. In 1969, the Charles Manson "family" murdered his pregnant wife, 26-year-old actress Sharon Tate, and four others in his Hollywood-area home.

The Pianist collected a total of seven Oscar nominations and marks the third honor for Polanski, behind 1979's Tess and 1974's Chinatown. He also received a screenplay nomination for the 1968 horror thriller Rosemary's Baby.

The Pianist is based on the 1946 memoir of pianist Wladyslaw Szpilman, a Polish Jew who survived Nazi-occupied Warsaw. Polanski said he drew heavily on his childhood Holocaust experiences, including his memory of his father telling him, "Walk, don't run," as he escaped a roundup of Jews sent to Auschwitz.

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