In regard to J’accuse, Le Devoir approvingly quoted Louis Dussault, president of K-Films America, who asserted: “It’s a great film, which should be shown in schools … but the problem is the author.” He added: “We’re not just in business, we’re also in culture … The #MeToo movement is part of that. We saw the film, we weighed the pros and cons, and we thought there’s no social acceptability for it.”
Roger Frappier, producer of many films including The Decline of the American Empire and Seducing Doctor Lewis, asserted that “you can’t separate the man from the artistic work.” With #MeToo, he continued, “with the on-going awareness of sexual harassment or assault, one has to take into account” the broader context surrounding a film.
Antoine Zeind, director of A-Z Films, added: “Everybody knows that he [Polanski] has been guilty since the 1970s. But he won Oscars, he got a César nomination and he had access to a huge budget to shoot J’accuse. In theory, if you’re guilty [of a crime], you don’t make a movie, you get a sentence, you’re in jail. You pay your debt.”
It is possible these individuals do not really believe what they are saying and simply prefer to “follow the wave.” But their refusal to distribute Polanski’s film has profoundly reactionary (and cowardly) implications. What they are essentially doing is echoing the slanderous slogan of #MeToo demonstrators, “Polanski rapist, cinemas guilty, viewers complicit,” which can be used to censor anything.
Unsurprisingly, Le Devoir repeats in its article the false allegation that Polanski fled from justice in the US. What really happened is that Polanski had reached an agreement with the prosecution in Los Angeles, with the consent of the victim Samantha Geimer (Gailey at the time), and pled guilty to a single count of unlawful sex with a minor. As a result, he was evaluated by psychiatrists who found him not to be a “Mentally Disordered Sex Offender” and recommended a sentence of probation. Polanski only left the US in response to the actions of the presiding judge, who threatened to repudiate the plea agreement with the clear intent of putting him behind bars for many years.