WARSAW (Reuters) - Roman Polanski
wants to shoot a movie in his native Poland about the 19th-century
Dreyfus Affair if the director gets assurances that he will have no
legal problems stemming from a 1977 sex crime conviction in the
United States, associates said.
Polanski, 80, spent part of his childhood in the Polish city
of Krakow, where he aims to film, until it was occupied by Nazi
German forces. He escaped Krakow's Jewish ghetto but his mother
died in the nearby Auschwitz concentration camp.
After World War Two he returned to Krakow, and later emigrated.
"Roman Polanski is considering filming in Poland about the
Dreyfus Affair," Jerzy Stachowicz, Polanski's Polish attorney,
told Reuters, referring to the 19th-century case of French
military officer Alfred Dreyfus.
Dreyfus was an artillery officer of Jewish heritage whose
conviction on trumped-up treason charges was criticized as
having been motivated by anti-Semitism. The case created a
schism in French society and he was later exonerated.
The Polish Film Institute said that Polanski had rented an
apartment in Krakow, had visited the city and taken his family
to the former camp at Auschwitz, which is now a museum.
At a news conference in Krakow this week, Robert Benmussa, a
producer who worked with Polanski on the 2002 Oscar-winning
movie "The Pianist," said a final decision had not yet been made
on whether to go ahead with the project.
"We have to be sure that filming will not be interrupted for
legal reasons," Benmussa said.
Polanski, director of such classics as "Rosemary's Baby" and
"Chinatown", pleaded guilty in 1977 to having unlawful sex with
13-year-old Samantha Geimer during a photoshoot, fueled by
champagne and drugs.
Polanski served 42 days in jail as part of a 90-day plea bargain in
1977. He fled the United States in 1978, believing the judge hearing
his case could overrule the deal and put him in jail for years.
In 2009, Polanski was arrested in the Swiss city of Zurich on a
31-year-old U.S. warrant and placed under house arrest. He was freed
in 2010 after the Swiss authorities decided not to extradite him to
the United States.
A spokeswoman for Poland's justice ministry declined to comment on
whether Polanski would be extradited. Under Polish law, if the
United States filed a request for extradition to Poland, a court
would rule on the request and the court's decision could still be
overruled by the justice minister.
Polanski has influential supporters in Poland.
Asked about the director on Thursday, Lecher Walesa, a former Polish
president and leader of the Solidarity trade union movement, said he
did not want to see Polanski re-arrested.
"It would be a pity, because he's a regular guy, I know him," Walesa
(Additional reporting by Magdalena Kolodziej; Editing by Christian
Lowe, Michael Roddy and Mark Heinrich)