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Last Updated:  Thursday, 13 March, 2003, 13:40 GMT
Polanski's Oscar hopes 'hit'
Roman Polanski
Polanski fled the US in 1977
Director Roman Polanski's hopes of winning an Oscar have been "hit" with the publication of court details from his 1977 trial on the internet.

Documents from his trial for unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl were released to the public by a Los Angeles judge late last year, but were put on the internet this week.

Their appearance online has sparked suspicions of a smear campaign against the 69-year-old, who is nominated for the best director Oscar for The Pianist.

You have to look at who has the motivation to place these kinds of stories
Stephen Gaydos, Variety
Polanski fled the US after admitting the charge, fearing a 50-year jail sentence after a judge overturned a plea bargain.

The film is up for seven Oscars in total including best film, prompting a steady flow of newspaper stories focusing on the case.

In the documents, Samantha Geimer, who is now 39, tells of the events at a house in Hollywood which lead up to Mr Polanski being arrested on unlawful sex charges.

Campaign

Stephen Gaydos, London-based executive editor of industry newspaper Variety, told BBC News Online he suspected it was part of a campaign against the film-maker.

"You have to look at who has the motivation to place these kinds of stories," he said.

"Bear in mind the photographs that have appeared of Nicole Kidman and Jude Law together," he added.

The best actress nominee has been plagued by rumours about her relationship with the married British actor.

"Journalists don't need any motivation other than being journalists to come up with these stories.

"But now it's happening to two of the Oscar contenders," he said.

Ms Geimer wrote in the Los Angeles Times last month that the director was a "stranger" to her nowadays - and The Pianist "should be judged on its merits alone".

Adrien Brody in The Pianist
Adrien Brody in The Pianist
"I don't really have any hard feelings toward him, or any sympathy, either," she said.

"But I believe that Mr Polanski and his film should be honoured according to the quality of the work."

"The one thing that bothers me is that what happened to me in 1977 continues to happen to girls every day, yet people are interested in me because Mr Polanski is a celebrity," she added.

Deportation

Geimer maintained her anonymity until 1997, when she said in an interview that she had forgiven Polanski, who lured her to Jack Nicholson's Hollywood home to commit the assault after conducting a fashion shoot.

While there have been rumours over the years that Polanski will return to the US to face justice, he remains based in Paris.

He also refuses to enter the UK for fear of deportation.

Last month, he won the best director Bafta for The Pianist, but the film's star Adrien Brody collected the award on his behalf at the London ceremony.

European award ceremonies have lavished praise on the Holocaust drama, which has won two Baftas in the UK, six Cesas in France and a Goya award from Spain. It also won the Palme d'Or in Cannes.

But the US has been more restrained - with only film critics' groups honouring Polanski.

While Mr Gaydos did not see Polanski as an Oscar favourite, he felt the publicity surrounding the case would upset the director personally.

"It's all hurtful to him, a nearly-30-year-old case which he hasn't had any closure on," he said.

"But I don't think it'll be hurtful to his career."


SEE ALSO:
Polanski victim urges focus
24 Feb 03 |  Entertainment
Polanski takes top Baftas
23 Feb 03 |  Entertainment
Pianist sweeps French awards
23 Feb 03 |  Entertainment


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