The cast, producers and collaborators of Roman Polanski’s The Palace showed their support for the filmmaker here in Venice today during a press conference for the movie that world premieres out of competition this evening.
Polanski himself is not on the Lido as it remains unclear whether he would be subject to Italy’s extradition treaty with the U.S. The selection of The Palace has sparked debate in the film world, which remains split over whether Polanski should be celebrated as an artist while 1973 charges of unlawful sex with a minor in the U.S. remain unresolved.
This is the second time in recent years that the filmmaker has been in official selection in Venice. However, following 2019’s prizewinning drama An Officer and a Spy, he’s back with a comedic movie.
The satire pokes fun at the ultra-rich and is set against the backdrop of Switzerland’s luxury Gstaad Palace Hotel, unfolding in the lead-up to a lavish New Year’s party on the eve of 2000. Fanny Ardant, Mickey Rourke, John Cleese, Joachim de Almeida, Oliver Masucci and more star in the ensemble.
Ardant today told the press corps, “I already knew Roman from being directed by him in the theater. (On The Palace), I rediscovered the joy of working with a passionate man who from early morning to night is on set looking for the absolute perfection.” De Almeida said it was “a pleasure” to make the film and that Polanski gets “the best out of you.”
Producer Luca Barbareschi, who hailed several of the film’s artistic collaborators present in the audience, commented, “It is not easy to produce Polanski,” noting that The Palace is “a big movie with a hole in the middle which is France.” There is currently no French distributor, though Barbareschi said he is due to speak with Pathé next week. There was much fallout after An Officer and a Spy won three César Awards in France, spurring protests and walkouts during the ceremony that year as well as an internal shakeup within the organization. The Palace has sold to a host of key territories outside France and Anglo-Saxon markets.
Barbareschi at one point today mused, “My question is this: I don’t understand why if (on) all the platforms — Paramount, Amazon, Netflix — all the movies of Polanski run every day making millions for those platforms, we cannot produce any Polanski movies?” (NB, a cursory check of those platforms shows Paramount+ hosting only Chinatown on its U.S. server while Amazon appears to have the most Polanski titles available in Europe.)
Paolo del Brocco, CEO of Rai Cinema which is a lead partner on The Palace, today called Polanski “a genius” and said it was an “honor and a pleasure for us to have co-produced this movie.”
Said Barbareschi of Venice chief Alberto Barbera, “When he accepted An Officer and a Spy, he was very courageous and brave. And this year as well… A festival must be a place of experimentation, of provocation, of expressive freedom of the artist. They can not be morally judged; otherwise we should destroy many works.”
He closed his remarks with, “Long live Roman.”