Roman Polanski will face protests when a retrospective of the controversial film director’s work opens in Paris today
Roman Polanski will face protests when a retrospective of the controversial film director’s work opens in Paris today Getty

Roman Polanski will face protests today (30 October) when a retrospective of the controversial film director's work opens in Paris. Polanski has been hit with allegations in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal.

Earlier this month, the Polish-born director was accused of an under-age rape by a woman who said he assaulted her in the Swiss alpine resort town of Gstaad in 1972. He has been unable to travel to the US since he fled the country in 1977, where he faces charges of raping a 13-year-old girl.

An online petition demanding the cancellation of the retrospective has so far collected more than 23,000 signatures.

The films of Polanski, which include Rosemary's Baby, Chinatown and The Pianist, are due to be shown at the prestigious French Cinémathèque, a state-subsidised body.

Feminist campaigner Laure Salmona, who launched the petition, said of the 83-year-old: "A great film-maker perhaps, but also a big criminal ... what message is the French Cinémathèque sending by announcing this retrospective?

"That crimes are, when all is said and done, diluted by fame and that rape is of little importance if committed by a talented man? How many more victims do there have to be for the film industry to realise that it cannot continue praising a paedophile to the skies?"

But the Cinemathèque, led by the Greek-French director Costa-Gavras, has refused to cancel the event. The retrospective begins with a showing of Polanski's latest film, Based on a True Story.

In a statement Costa-Gavras said: "The Cinematheque does not intend to substitute itself for the law."

He added: "We don't give out prizes or certificates for good behaviour. Our ambition is different: to show the complete work of film-makers and to place them in the permanent history of the Cinémathèque."

In January, Polanski, 84, was forced back out of hosting the César awards, the French Oscars, after 61,000 people signed a petition opposing him being handed the coveted job.

The controversy surrounding the film director's retrospective comes as allegations of sexual abuse at the hands of Hollywood producer Weinstein have highlighted concerns about the harassment of women in the workplace in Europe and America.

In France this has been supported by the #MeToo social media campaign, or #balancetonporc, meaning "expose your pig".

Female MPs have told of having to fight off male colleagues, office workers have said their complaints of unwanted advances have been ignored by line managers and an assistant TV producer said she was threatened with the sack unless she slept with her boss.

Earlier this month a French music magazine, Les Inrockuptibles, was forced to apologise for putting a rock star who killed his girlfriend on the cover, to promote his comeback album.