Documentary Tries to Turn Page on Polanski Sex Case

A documentary on Roman Polanski presented at Cannes on Wednesday gave a glowing account of the director’s glittering career and traumatic life and sought to let him move on from a decades-old child sex case.

The film by Laurent Bouzereau features the Oscar-winner chatting about everything from his childhood in Nazi-occupied Poland to the sexual assault case that caused him to flee the United States in 1978.

Polanski, himself expected in the Cannes festival to present a restored version of his 1979 film Tess, is planning a film about one of the most high-profile miscarriages of justice in French history, the Dreyfus affair.

Roman Polanski: A Film Memoir, which got its world premiere at Zurich film festival last September, sees the director’s friend Andrew Braunsberg interviewing him while he was under house arrest in Switzerland.

The filmmaker was arrested on an international warrant over the child sex case in September 2009 upon his arrival at the airport in Zurich, as he headed to the city’s film festival.

Polanski spent 10 months in Swiss custody before convincing authorities not to honour a US extradition request, and instead to release him.

In the new documentary, which was presented out of competition, he again says he regrets having sex with a 13-year-old girl in 1977 after plying her with drugs and champagne.

The film, which intersperses historical footage and clips from Polanski’s many films as the two old friends chat, was at pains to argue that due legal process was not respected and that the victim long ago forgave the perpetrator.

Polanski pleaded guilty to having unlawful intercourse with the girl.

He was initially charged with six felony counts, including rape and sodomy, but the charges were later reduced under a plea deal made in part to spare the teen the ordeal of a trial.

The director later served 42 days at a secure unit undergoing psychiatric evaluation but fled the United States on the eve of his sentencing in 1978 amid fears the trial judge planned to go back on a previously agreed plea deal.

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