According to a non-bylined Variety story posted this morning, “controversial” film director Roman Polanski “has cancelled a planned visit to the ongoing Locarno Film Festival” due to unspecified “tensions” and “controversies.” What the hell is that supposed to mean? Do these tensions and controversies have anything to do with the 21st Century, or is this yet another throwback to Polanski’s legal troubles from the late ’70s? What self-respecting European gives a damn about that? Aside from the small fraternity of loons in the U.S. who have never let it go, no one gives a shit. So it must be something else, but what?

The Variety headline of the story mentioned “pressure” but didn’t say what it was about or where the pressure might be coming from. The story explained nothing. It was almost as if someone wrote it with the deliberate intention of teasing or infuriating readers. The story by Indiewire‘s Paula Bernstein is just as frustrating. What happened exactly? Why did he bug out?

The Locarno guys don’t seem happy about the Polanski withdrawal. They described his cancellation as “a setback” and said that “the public will thereby be deprived of an important opportunity for cultural enrichment.” It added that it “continues to affirm its commitment to the principle of free and unfettered artistic expression.”

Polanski would have attended Locarno this week. He was due to receive a lifetime achivement award, give a master class (i.e., submit to a public interview) and screen his most recent film, Venus In Fur.