Years and years from now, Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired could stand as the most important document on the Polish director’s ongoing legal trouble. It sounds strong, and it’s also sure to stoke some tempers: when many can barely talk about Carnage without resorting to a mention of the man’s (yes, entirely heinous) past acts, how is a defense of his legal exile going to be taken? As it turns out, many will be shocked at how they’ll feel coming out of the picture.
That Wanted and Desired arrived a year before his second high-profile detainment should tell you the story didn’t simply end. In following it up, director Marina Zenovich has returned to the subject for Roman Polanski: Odd Man Out, an examination of the ways in which his arrest was handled by international authorities — and, additionally, how her own work may have contributed to the original action. A preview promises both an update and second look, making it clear that the filmmaker isn’t simply looking to capture the same energy that her first project brought about. As a fan of Polanski, the first documentary, and all forms of investigative cinema, I’m keeping my eyes peeled.
Watch the trailer below (via Yahoo!):
Odd Man Out is expected to premiere on Showtime this year. Here’s the programmer’s note from last year’s TIFF:
What happens when an award-winning documentary intended to highlight a legal injustice comes back to haunt its maker? In 2008, director Marina Zenovich’s Emmy Award®–winning film Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired brought a radical new understanding to the circumstances surrounding Roman Polanski’s 1977 statutory rape case. Interviewing key participants from both the prosecution and the defense, Zenovich detailed how Polanski couldn’t get a fair trial, prompting him to flee the United States. Even Polanski’s victim, Samantha Geimer, said he was treated unjustly and deserved to have the case dismissed. But these views didn’t stop others from vilifying Polanski. The film’s notoriety seemed to make him even more “wanted and desired” by the authorities.
When Polanski was arrested in Switzerland in 2009 and threatened with extradition to the United States, Zenovich felt she was partly to blame. Her new film Roman Polanski: Odd Man Out revisits this endlessly controversial case from several new angles. What possessed the Swiss government to arrest Polanski? For years, he had vacationed in Switzerland and even bought a home there. Was the Swiss government trying to distract attention from an American investigation into its banks? Was the Los Angeles District Attorney grandstanding for his own political ambitions? How far had Zenovich’s own work as a filmmaker unwittingly contributed to Polanski’s arrest?
Zenovich applies her insider’s knowledge and dogged research to the process of investigating what took place in Switzerland. (The subtitle Odd Man Out refers to the 1947 fugitive drama that Polanski has cited as a favourite.) Whether or not you’ve seen her previous film, this work stands on its own as a shrewd commentary on the collision of life and cinematic art. When it comes to Polanski’s case, opinions have always been more prevalent than facts. An esteemed journalist is caught in an unguarded moment saying, “just take him out and shoot him.” But Zenovich unearths fresh perspectives and new questions. The film leads us to think about broader questions of legal manipulation, media distortion, and power politics. No matter how much you think you understand this case, you have a lot to learn.
There’s also a great, revealing interview Polanski had conducted with Diane Sawyer in 1994. If you’re at all interested in the stories which surround his post-1977 life, this is a must-watch (via Cinephilia & Beyond):
Were you a fan of Wanted and Desired? If so, does Odd Man Out look to continue the tradition?
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