Roman Polanski directed classic films such as Chinatown and Rosemary's Baby, but, since 1977, he's been in the news mainly for the sexual assault of a 13-year-old girl in the United States - a charge to which he pleaded guilty - and then fleeing American justice to hide out in Europe, where authorities such as those in France have refused to extradite him.
Roman Polanski: A Film Memoir (on demand on the Movie Movie cable channel), an interview conducted by his long-time friend and producer Laurent Bouzereau, took place in Switzerland in 2009, when he was under house arrest while the Swiss authorities debated whether to extradite him to the US.
Movie fans will certainly find the first third of the film, which details the director's childhood in Nazi-occupied Poland, interesting, especially as his own experiences are related to later films such as The Pianist. The second section, in which he talks about the murder of his wife, actress Sharon Tate, by Charles Manson's cult in Los Angeles in 1969, is moving. But the third part, in which he discusses why he fled from America, is just one more piece in a large body of propaganda aimed at getting Polanski off the hook. The focus here is how the press covered the case, and the suffering the reporters caused, rather than the suffering Polanski caused his victim.
This film, which features controversial statements by some of those involved in the case - some of which were later retracted - puts the argument that, because Polanski has led such a tragic life, he shouldn't have to face justice for the rape he committed. Indeed, his life has been full of tragedy. He tells of how his mother was murdered by the Nazis at the Auschwitz concentration camp and how his wife was killed because she was in the wrong place at the wrong time. But why should a tragic past and a reputation for being a great director mean Polanski should be absolved from facing justice for a crime against a child that even he says he committed?
The law is supposed to treat everyone equally, including famous film directors, and that is something this film, like many of Polanski's supporters, refuses to countenance.