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Roman Polanski, the controversial director who is still a fugitive in the United States, has decided not to attend the Locarno Film Festival in Switzerland this week due to recent protests.
Polanski sent a letter to the festival organizers, who posted the letter online. He was set to receive the festival’s lifetime achievement award, notes Entertainment Weekly.
“I am sorry to inform you that having considered the extent to which my planned appearance at the Locarno Festival provokes tensions and controversies among those opposed to my visit, even as I respect their opinions, it is with a heavy heart that I must cancel my visit. I am deeply saddened to disappoint you,” Polanski’s statement read.
Locarno artistic director Carlo Chatrian said in a statement that he was saddened by the fact that attendees will not get to meet the filmmaker.
“I understand and respect the decision of Roman Polanski,” Chatrian said. “I sincerely hope that this missed opportunity for growth won’t sound like a victory for those who want to bridle the Festival, but becomes a platform to relaunch it as a space for hospitality and freedom.”
Polanski has been a fugitive in the U.S. since 1978, after he was convicted of having sex with a 13-year-old girl. He went to France before sentencing and has managed to avoid extradition. The closest he came was in 2009, when he was arrested at a Zurich festival and placed under house arrest. However, Swiss authorities decided not to extradite him.
The director, who won an Oscar in 2003 for directing The Pianist, is currently hoping to make a movie about the Dreyfus Affair, but has to make sure that Poland won’t extradite him to the U.S. first.
image courtesy of INFphoto.com