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Venice Jury President Lucrecia Martel Says Yes to Polanski’s Film, No to Congratulating Him

Argentine auteur Lucrecia Martel, who presides over the Venice Film Festival jury, defended the inclusion of Roman Polanski’s “An Officer and A Spy” in the competition but said she would not attend a gala dinner for Polanski’s movie later this week.

“I will not congratulate him,” Martel said during the festival’s opening press conference. “But I think it is right that his movie is here at this festival.”

Martel, whose credits include “The Headless Woman” and “Zama,” added that “we have to develop our dialogue with him, and this is the best possible place to go on with this type of discussion.”

Polanski, who was convicted of statutory rape in 1977, will not be making an appearance on the Lido, according to his film’s publicist.

Speaking of the case, Martel said: “A man who commits a crime of this size who is then condemned, and the victim considers herself satisfied with the compensation, is difficult for me judge….It is difficult to define what is the right approach we have to take with people who have committed certain acts and were judged for them. I think these questions are part of the debate in our times.”

Martel also distanced herself from festival director Alberto Barbera’s reiteration that he rejects the notion of quotas for female directors at festivals. “The issue of the quotas is difficult and the answer is never satisfactory,” she said. “There are no other solutions which include the discussion of whether to give women the place that they deserve,” she added.

“And I think that quotas are indeed pertinent for the time being. Do I like them? No. However, I don’t think I know of any other system that would force this industry to think differently and to take into consideration films that are directed by women.”

Martel then said to Barbera: “For this 76th edition of the festival, you could have tried as an experiment, Mr. Barbera, to have 50-50, just to see what happens – if it’s so certain that the quality of movies would suffer or if this could foster a distinct industry-wide movement. The industry transformation underway is so deep that, after 76 years, Venice could experiment for a couple of years.”

Barbera declined to take up the idea. “If I had found 50% of movies directed by women [that were worthy of the selection], I would have done that, without any need for a quota,” he said.

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