In Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired, Marina Zenovich surveys the underreported details of Roman Polanski’s rocky trial for statutory rape that led him to conclude that jumping the border was his best option. In exhaustive interviews with sources close to the case, Zenovich uncovers a slapstick account of media frenzy, fading Hollywood ambition and a one-sided judge driven by egomania and fame.
Blending detailed reportage with a fl air for the extravagance of Polanski’s erstwhile playboy existence, Zenovich’s documentary premiered to great acclaim at Sundance, where HBO snatched it up in the festival’s first major buy. The network gave the film a brief awards-qualifying theatrical run in March and aired the fi lm on June 9, while THINKfilm launched a theatrical roll out in mid-June. “I’m overwhelmed by the response,” Zenovich says.
Polanski has lived in France since the incident and, as Zenovich’s film suggests, considering the amount of personal biases involved in his trial, most people would have done the same thing. “It’s a tragedy for everyone involved,” she says.
Wanted and Desired also manages to locate the entertainment value of the Polanski trial—a bizarre circus of uncertain allegiances— without exploiting it. Using clips from Polanski’s own films to illustrate the affair’s various twists, Zenovich poeticizes an underlying absurdity. “His work was unrelated in terms of my intentions, but it couldn’t help flavoring everything,” she says—although it makes you wonder how it played to Samantha Geimer, the then 13-year-old girl Polanski seduced in Jack Nicholson’s hot tub.
“She called me after she saw it and said she liked it a lot,” Zenovich says.
With that kind of hechsher, you’d think even the man at the center of it all would give his blessing to her project—but no such luck. “I heard from Polanski’s agent that he didn’t want to be involved,” Zenovich explains. “He was sorry, but felt that it would look like self-promotion.”
My Journey With Roman – Brett Ratner and Roman Polanski visit Auschwitz, the site of Polanski’s mother’s murder over half a century ago.