Sunday, September 14, 2008


Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired (Marina Zenovich, 2008)

In France he is desired and in America he is wanted.
- Andrew Braunsberg

Rajmund Roman Liebling was born on August 18, 1933 in Paris, France. His family moved to Poland in 1937. At the dawn of the second world war his family was moved to the Kraków Ghetto.He stayed alive by living in a farm where he had to sleep in a cow stall. One of his life-affirming motivation was to reunite with his family when the Nazi Germany would be defeated. Once the war ended he found out his mother and sister were killed in the Auschwitz concentration camp.

He graduated from the Polish film school in Łódź in 1959. His international breakthrough masterpiece Knife in the Water (1962) was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards and was just re-released on dvd by the Criterion Collection. His films dealt with intelligent psychological horrors and alienation. Repulsion, Rosemary's Baby, Chinatown and The Tenant were popular in the art house film circuits. In 1969 his pregnant wife of the time Sharon Tate was murdered by followers of Charles Manson.

Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired explains what exactly happened in 1978 between Roman and the 13-year-old Samantha (Gaily) Geimer. Through archive footage, photographs, newspaper clippings, text, courtroom sketches and interviews. Marina Zenovich beautifully lays out and layers the facts wrapped up in the divisive case. The scandal with Samantha involved Roman organizing a private photo shoot for a french edition of vogue that lead to the unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor. After that there was an indictment for Roman where the showboating presiding judge, Laurence J. Rittenband sentenced him to 50 years in prison. To get around the American legal system Roman fled to London and then to Paris where he holds citizenship. France does not extradite its own citizens so he has been staying there ever since and he avoids traveling to countries that might give him up to American authorities. The film sheds a light on the activities leading up to, involving and after the case. (Bytowne Cinema, 324 Rideau Street, 09/26-09/30)

He is now 75 years old and is married to the french actress Emmanuelle Seigner and they have two children Morgane and Elvis. In 2002 he won his first Palme D'or at Cannes for The Pianist and now he is currently working on a adaptation of the novel The Ghost, written by Robert Harris.- David Davidson

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