Roman Polanski Arrested in Switzerland on 30 Year Old Warrant
Filmmaker Roman Polanski has been arrested in Switzerland today on a 1978 US arrest warrant, reports NY Daily News. Polanski was flying to Switzerland to receive an honorary award at the Zurich Film Festival when he was detained late Saturday at the airport, festival organizers said in a statement. Polanski fled the US back in 1978, a year after pleading guilty to the accusations that he had sex with a 13-year-old girl. He has since never returned to the US, but has continued to direct in France. Swiss officials say they arrested him because they have an extradition treaty with the US that dates back to the 1950s that is still in force.
The story behind Polanski's controversial trial and flee to Europe has been known around Hollywood for years. It was most recently brought up again in the critically acclaimed documentary Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired from last year. Polanski is an Oscar winning filmmaker responsible for bringing us classics like Rosemary's Baby, Chinatown, and The Pianist. His last full feature film was Oliver Twist in 2005, although he was in the midst of directing and finishing another new feature called The Ghost, which stars Ewan McGregor and Pierce Brosnan. We actually just ran a short teaser for that a few months back.
The Swiss Directors Association criticized authorities for what it deemed "not only a grotesque farce of justice, but also an immense cultural scandal." During his trial in 1978, Polanski was allowed to plead guilty to one of six charges, unlawful sexual intercourse, and was sent to prison for 42 days of evaluation. Lawyers agreed that would be his sentence, but the judge tried to reneg on the plea bargain. Aware the judge would sentence him to more prison time and require his voluntary deportation, Polanski fled to France. The victim, Samantha Geimer previously joined in Polanski's bid for dismissal, saying she wants the case to be over.
We're not sure what this means for The Ghost, as we don't know if it was already completed or not, but I'm sure we'll be hearing a lot more regarding this arrest and Polanski's situation soon. I don't care to comment on his convictions or his personal choices, but as a filmmaker, this is very unfortunate to hear, especially for someone who currently has a project in the works. We'll keep you updated on all the latest news as it arrives.