Roman Polanski in Poland on Official Invite From Polish Government
GDYNIA, Poland – Roman Polanski had help from high places slipping into Poland's Gdynia Film Festival on Friday.
Sources from the festival and the Polish Film Institute said Polanski was able to visit the fest thanks to an arrangement with the Polish Ministry of Culture. Sources say Polanski was personally invited by Polish Minister of Culture Bogdan Zdrojewski, who shared the stage with the director and the festival's jury president Janusz Glowacki at Saturday's closing ceremony, where the three men presented the festival's top prize, the Golden Lion, to Pawel Pawlikowski for his film Ida. The Polish Film Institute source said Polanski would be in Poland for three days.
The director, who lives in France, fled the U.S. in 1977 before being sentenced after pleading guilty to having sex with a 13-year-old girl. He remains subject to an international arrest warrant and extradition on charges that he raped her. It is unclear whether the U.S. intended to pursue Polanski during his Poland trip. The Los Angeles District Attorney's office told The Hollywood Reporter there was no such announcement in the works.
Polanski, who arrived in Gdynia late Thursday night, also gave a master class to Polish film school students Friday afternoon at the Baltic seaside resort that is home to Poland's national film showcase.
As he was being hustled into a black luxury car after the master class, THR asked Polanski about his decision to come to Poland, but a woman waved away this reporter, yelling "Goodbye, goodbye!"
Polanski also attended a high-security, invitation-only screening of his Cannes entry Venus in Fur later the same day.
"I express myself through what I show on the screen and, therefore, I would like to suggest starting the screening," said the director before the screening.
"I hope there are a lot of women in the audience because to some extent, it is a film for them. Unfortunately, in most of my films women are victims, but in this film the situation is different. It is a strong and complex character who speaks the language of women," added Polanski, who received a five-minute standing ovation at the screening.
Four years ago, the director was arrested when he visited the Zurich Film Festival in Switzerland. He was held under house arrest at his chalet in the skiing resort of Gstaad while U.S. authorities attempted to secure his extradition, but was released after they failed to do so.
Polanski was born in France and is a French citizen but is of Polish descent. He studied film at the country's famous Lodz film school.