Marina Zenovich’s investigation into an infamous celebrity rape case made its debut at Sundance in 2008, where it won the Documentary Film Editing Award. It went on to screen at Cannes, Seattle, Zurich, Melbourne, Sydney, and Torino, among several others, and to win two Emmy Awards.
Well-known by US audiences for ROSEMARY’S BABY and for the tragic death of his wife Sharon Tate, a victim of the Manson Family, director Roman Polanski came under scrutiny when he was arrested in 1977 for the sexual assault of a thirteen year old during a photo shoot. Though originally claiming innocence, he accepted a plea bargain to lessen the charges, and plead guilty to unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor. However, rather than re-appearing in court for final sentencing, he left America for good, and, as a French citizen, was protected from extradition for over thirty years. Popular opinion viewed his flight from the US as a further admission of guilt and a move to avoid prison, leaving the once-celebrated filmmaker persona non grata. In the first of her two films about Polanski, Zenovich re-opens the case, crafting a persuasive argument and offering provocative new information – particularly about the ambitious judge’s behavior – that calls into question what everyone has taken as fact. While made without Polanski’s participation, Zenovich secures remarkable access to other major players in the drama, including, most affectingly, Samantha Geimer, the victim at is core. The film had real consequences, as detailed in Zenovich’s follow-up, ROMAN POLANSKI: ODD MAN OUT, with re-ignited interest in the controversial case leading to Polanski’s 2009 arrest while in Switzerland, though he was ultimately not extradited.