Polanski filmmaker watches, tapes sex case hearing


LOS ANGELES (AP) — A documentary filmmaker whose work renewed interest in Roman Polanski’s decades-old sex case says it’s a surreal feeling to have her movie referenced in the director’s appeal arguments.

Marina Zenovich had a front-row seat for Thursday’s hearing before a California appeals court, where Polanski’s attorney argued the case should be dismissed for misconduct.

Polanski’s attorney Chad Hummel at one point told the three justices they should watch Zenovich’s film, “Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired.”

“It’s surreal,” Zenovich said after the hearing. “It’s bizarre to think my film had something to do with it.”

Zenovich, who filmed the hearing for a follow-up project, said she found the spirited questioning of lawyers by justices to be “refreshing.” She said she thought the justices were trying to find the truth.

Zenovich’s first Polanski documentary won two Emmy Awards after airing on HBO.

It included an interview with a former deputy district attorney who said he tried to influence the judge handling the case in which Polanski pleaded guilty to one count of unlawful sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old girl in 1977.

During Thursday’s hearing, Hummel cited the remarks by the prosecutor, who didn’t handle Polanski’s case but was assigned to the courtroom where it was heard.

Zenovich thinks an evidentiary hearing should be held to determine the scope of misconduct, which she believes was the reason Polanski fled the U.S. in 1978 on the eve of sentencing.

The director feared he would receive more prison time than agreed to in his plea bargain.

“In my opinion, it seems that everyone involved in the case just wants it to be over,” Zenovich said.

She wants to be there when it happens then release her follow-up documentary.

“I really want to do it to the end,” she said.

Zenovich is no stranger to appeals courts. Her father, George, was an appellate judge in Fresno, Calif., where a courthouse now bears his name.