April 21, 2019
Director Roman Polanski Petitions To Have Academy Membership Restored After Being Purged Along With Bill Cosby

Last year, the organization behind the Oscars ended the membership of three high-profile industry players based on allegations of severe sexual misconduct, and now one of them is fighting back, The Guardian reports. The organization, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, took the highly unusual action of expelling from the academy film mogul Harvey Weinstein, comedian and actor Bill Cosby, and director Roman Polanski.

Polanski won an Oscar for best director in 2003 for his work on The Pianist, but to this day remains a fugitive from the United States after pleading guilty to unlawful sex with a minor in 1977. Polanski has been living in Europe since that time. In the meantime, his films have been nominated for 28 Oscars, with Polanski himself picking up several nomination personally. Due to his history, the director has long been a controversial figure, especially as the 2003 award ceremony erupted into a standing ovation in Polanski's absence when his win was announced.

He had been a member of the academy for almost 50 years when the status was revoked last year.

Kicking Polanski out of the organization came in the wake of revisions to the group's code of conduct, which were updated for its more than 8,000 members following their expulsion of Weinstein. The revised standards said that the academy was no longer a place for "people who abuse their status, power or influence in a manner that violates standards of decency."

In addition, the updated code gave the academy's board the ability to suspend or expel those who violated those rules or who otherwise compromised the integrity of the organization.

Harland Braun, Polanski's lawyer, said that they had been blindsided by his removal and that they had only learned of the decision through public media reports.

Polanski appealed the decision and the appeal was denied in January.

In response, Polanski has filed a petition in the Los Angeles Superior Court to force the academy to return him to a member in good standing. In the five-page filing, Polanski argues that he was not given sufficient notice of his expulsion and that he and his lawyer were not given the opportunity to argue their case in person during the appeal, indicating that the academy had "failed to comply with its own rules, policies and regulations."

The academy responded, indicating that their decision would remain.

"The procedures taken to expel Mr. Polanski were fair and reasonable. The Academy stands behind its decision as appropriate," they said in a statement.