The old “separating the art from the artist” argument reared it’s head again at the 2019 Venice Film Festival opening press conference in which the event’s chief, Alberto Barbera, and this year’s jury president Lucretia Martel (above), discussed the controversial inclusion of Roman Polanski in this year’s competition lineup.
The infamous director, of course, was charged with rape in the 1970s. There’s been renewed focus on the crime and Polanski’s behavior in the #MeToo, which resulted in his expulsion from the Academy in May 2018.
Both Barbera and Martel, however, have continued to defend him.
“[I am] convinced that we have to distinguish necessarily between the artist and the man,” Barbera said. “The history of art is full of artists who committed crimes of a different nature, nevertheless we have continued to admire their works of art. The same is true for Polanski who is in my opinion one of the last masters still active in European cinema.”
Martel said she “does not separate the man from the art” but she explained why Polanski’s case is more complicated to judge. “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 to judge,” she said. “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.”
“I will not congratulate him, but I think it is correct that his movie is here at this festival,” Martel added. “We have to develop our dialogue with him and this is the best possible place to go on with this type of discussion.”
To that end, Martel has said she will not attend a dinner organized during the festival for Polanski’s movie.
Which really makes a stand, huh?