Polanski still in jail; 'Ghost' on track

German distributor to release it during Berlin film festival

COLOGNE, Germany -- Roman Polanski will remain in a Swiss jail until at least Friday while authorities await his $4.5 million bail payment. But the director's latest film, "The Ghost," looks set to travel to the Berlin International Film Festival in February.

On Tuesday, German distributor Kinowelt announced it would release "The Ghost" on Feb.18, 2010 -- in the middle of the Berlin fest, which is set for Feb. 11-21.

Kinowelt declined comment, but sources close to the production confirmed "The Ghost" would premiere at the 60th Berlin festival. The official festival debut is likely to come in the first week -- ahead of the national rollout Feb. 18. It is unclear whether "The Ghost" will run in competition in Berlin or as a special gala screening, though insiders suggest the latter.

The Berlin festival could not be reached for comment Tuesday, but organizers rarely comment on Berlin's lineup outside of official press conferences.

The February release date suggests Polanski is all but finished with the film, which he continued to work on despite his arrest in Zurich in September. Swiss police arrested the Oscar-winning director on a U.S. warrant stemming from his 1977 charge of having unlawful sex with a 13 year-old girl. The Swiss Justice Ministry last week agreed to release Polanksi to house arrest at his chalet in the Swiss ski resort of Gstaad but he still faces possible extradition to the U.S.

In an ironic twist, the plot of "The Ghost" is also that of a man whose past comes back to haunt him. Based on the Robert Harris' bestseller, "The Ghost" stars Pierce Brosnan as a former British Prime Minister who is accused of war crimes. Ewen McGregor plays the man hired to ghostwrite his memoirs, who begins to uncover some dark secrets. Kim Cattrall, Olivia Williams, James Belushi and Tom Wilkinson also star. The film was shot mainly at Studio Babelsberg outside Berlin.

It's unlikely that Polanski will make it to the red carpet, however. At the moment, he remains in jail. Swiss authorities on Tuesday said they had not yet received the $4.5 million bail deposit from Polanski and had not set up the electronic monitoring at his chalet that are the conditions of his release. A spokesman for the Justice Department said Polanski would not be released before Friday at the earliest.

The world's media is camped out in Gstaad waiting for Polanski's arrival. Under the conditions of his bail, Polanski will have to wear an electronic monitoring bracelet at all times and will not be allowed to leave his property. However, he will be able to move freely within the house and grounds and will be able to receive guests.

Polanski is fighting extradition to face U.S. sentencing over the 1977 sex case. The Swiss Justice Department is expected to decide on possible extradition within weeks but if Polanski appeals, the case could drag on for months. The 76-year-old director faces up to two years in prison if convicted.

In the original 1977 trial, Polanski pleaded guilty to one count of sex with a minor. But he fled the country before sentencing, fearing the judge would toss out his plea bargain and give him jail time. Since then, Polanski has been a fugitive, though he has moved freely throughout Europe.
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