Academy’s Inner Workings Revealed Via Roman Polanski Lawsuit

Polanski is seeking to be re-admitted to the Academy

Roman Polanski and Emmanuelle Seigner in 2011
Roman Polanski and Emmanuelle Seigner in 2011.
Georges Biard/Creative Commons
By Tobias Carroll / July 12, 2020 6:43 pm

In recent years, calls have increased for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to be reformed. Some of these calls for reform have argued in favor of a more diverse group of voters, while others have addressed a different set of structural changes. The inner workings of the Academy have remained mysterious to many observers, which has had the effect of increasing the calls for reform.

Now, new information about some of the Academy’s processes have come to light via a lawsuit filed by film director and convicted rapist Roman Polanski. At Deadline, Michael Cieply reports that a filing by Polanski’s lawyer in late June offers interesting information for Academy observers. Polanski was removed from the Academy in 2018 at the same time as Bill Cosby as a result of the Academy adopting new standards of conduct. Also removed as a result of these standards: Harvey Weinstein.

The filing from Polanski’s lawyer offers some details of how Polanski came to be expelled:

As the Academy governors met on May 1, 2018, according to Polanski’s lawyer Harland Braun, they were presented with a letter demanding the immediate expulsion of Bill Cosby, a member since 1996, because of his conviction five days earlier in Pennsylvania on an aggravated assault charge. Braun’s filing said the signature on the letter was redacted, so precisely who initiated the action remains unclear.

Following that letter, a motion passed calling for the expulsion of both Cosby and Polanski. At issue in Polanski’s suit is whether the Academy was required to ask Polanski to respond to the charges — or if his earlier conviction and the fact that he’s been a fugitive from the law for several decades sufficed.

We may know more when the hearing regarding Polanski’s lawsuit begins. That’s currently set to take place on August 25.

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