Feminists to protest in Paris as Roman Polanski attends tribute (to himself)

French feminists will stage a protest in Paris on Monday as film director Roman Polanski, accused of a string of sexual assaults, is expected to attend a retrospective of his work.

Feminists to protest in Paris as Roman Polanski attends tribute (to himself)
Photo: AFP
The Franco-Polish director, 84, will appear at the prestigious Cinematheque Francaise film archive as debate over sexual abuse rages worldwide following the allegations that toppled Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein.
“What is important for us is that the retrospective be cancelled and that the Cinematheque apologise,” Ozez le Feminisme (“Dare to be Feminist”) spokeswoman Raphaelle Remy-Leleu told AFP.
The group was behind a petition signed by more than 26,000 people to demand the cancellation of the month-long event.

Sexual harassment: Thousands of French women take to streets to say #MeTooPhoto: AFP

The Cinematheque, which is partly state-funded, has ruled out pulling the event, with its president, Greek-French director Costa-Gavras, saying last week it does not intend to “take the place of the justice system”.
Culture Minister Francoise Nyssen argued that the retrospective was planned long before the debate unleashed by the Weinstein scandal.
“It's about a body of work, not about a man,” she said. “It's not for me to condemn a body of work.”
The director of “Chinatown” and “Rosemary's Baby” is wanted in the United States for statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl in 1977, when he was 43.
He admitted to the charge after more serious rape charges were dropped, and spent an initial 42 days in jail before being released for good behaviour.
In 1978, convinced a judge was going to scrap his plea deal and send him to prison for decades, Polanski fled for France and has been a fugitive from the US justice system ever since, despite repeated attempts to have him extradited.
Earlier this month Swiss prosecutors confirmed they were investigating new rape allegations against Polanski made by a woman who said he assaulted her in a resort in the Swiss Alps in 1972.
The new claims, which Polanski has denied through his lawyer, bring to at least four the number of women who have publicly accused him of sexual assault.
In February, Polanski was to host the Cesar awards — France's answer to the Oscars — but pulled out under pressure from feminists.


Pope appoints French woman to senior synod post

Pope Francis has broken with Catholic tradition to appoint a woman as an undersecretary of the synod of bishops, the first to hold the post with voting rights in a body that studies major questions of doctrine.

Pope appoints French woman to senior synod post
Pope Francis has appointed Nathalie Becquart as undersecretary of the synod of bishops. She is the first woman to hold the post. Photo: AFP

Frenchwoman Nathalie Becquart is one of the two new undersecretaries named on Saturday to the synod, where she has been a consultant since 2019.

The appointment signals the pontiff's desire “for a greater participation of women in the process of discernment and decision-making in the church”, said Cardinal Mario Grech, the secretary-general of the synod.

“During the previous synods, the number of women participating as experts and listeners has increased,” he said.

“With the nomination of Sister Nathalie Becquart and her possibility of participating in voting, a door has opened.”

The synod is led by bishops and cardinals who have voting rights and also comprises experts who cannot vote, with the next gathering scheduled for autumn 2022.

A special synod on the Amazon in 2019 saw 35 female “auditors” invited to the assembly, but none could vote.

The Argentinian-born pope has signalled his wish to reform the synod and have women and laypeople play a greater role in the church.

He named Spaniard Luis Marin de San Martin as the other under undersecretary in the synod of bishops.

Becquart, 52, a member of the France-based Xaviere Sisters, has a master's degree in management from the prestigious HEC business school in Paris and studied in Boston before joining the order.