Controversial Polanski Biopic Due This Month on DVD1 Oct, 2009 By: Thomas K. Arnold
A controversial biopic on director Roman Polanski is being released on DVD to retail stores around the country on Oct. 20.
Damian Chapa, who directed, wrote and stars in Polanski Unauthorized: Roman Polanski’s Life Story ($25), says the film was initially distributed only to Wal-Mart and various Web sites through Terra Entertainment. But recently, Chapa said, he decided to expand distribution to other retailers through Victory Multimedia — just before the controversy hit over Polanski’s arrest on a 32-year-old sex charge.
“It was coincidental,” says Chapa, whose Amadeus Pictures produced the film in early 2008 and gave it a limited theatrical release.
The film casts a cynical eye on Polanski and explores in detail his life, from his early years in war-torn Poland to the 1969 murder of his wife, Sharon Tate, and his exile from the United States in 1977 after he pled guilty to having sex with a 13-year-old girl. The circumstances surrounding the alleged rape of the girl are shown in great detail.
Chapa is a veteran actor who has appeared in such films as Street Fighter, Taylor Hackford’s Blood In, Blood Out and the made-for-TV movie Menendez: A Killing in Beverly Hills (he played Lyle Menendez). In recent years he’s busied himself directing, producing and sometimes starring in independent features.
When Polanski Unauthorized: Roman Polanski’s Life Story was released theatrically, its run was limited to just two theaters in Los Angeles. Chapa said the film received several good reviews and he wanted to expand distribution, but couldn’t get financing. He said he felt stonewalled by the Hollywood establishment.
“I was called by the biggest agency in Hollywood and told that if I did the film I’d never work again,” he says.
Chapa concedes he’s never met Polanski, but studied his life in great depth through reading and interviewing people who know him. He has little sympathy for the director, he says.
“I think Roman is a very interesting person, and a brilliant director, who needs psychological help,” Chapa says. “I think everyone deserves a fair trial, but I also think we have to protect our children. People need to see this film to understand why this man is in jail, and why the American justice system wants him.”
A documentary on Polanski, Roman Polanski: Wanted & Desired, was released on DVD last January by Image Entertainment.