The email invitation read “Confidential” in the subject line.
With that, select buyers who had converged in Cannes from around the world were summoned to a secret presentation of Roman Polanski’s latest film, An Officer and a Spy.
The pic’s launch to buyers took place at Le Studio just off the Croisette on Saturday and drew a packed house. French star Jean Dujardin (The Artist) was on hand for the presentation, which featured stills from the film about Captain Alfred Dreyfus, a French-Jewish solider wrongly accused of spying for the Germans, whose trial for treason became a cause celebre in Paris in the 1890s.
An Officer and a Spy‘s producer Alain Goldman (La Vie en Rose) also spoke during the showing, which was spearheaded by Playtime, the France-based company handling international sales for the project. Polanski himself was absent from the affair.
International buyers were impressed by what appeared to be the movie’s epic scale, despite a $25 million budget. One European distribution executive said he would have no qualms about releasing a Polanski film, despite the fact that the director, who fled the U.S. after admitting to the statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl in 1977, has become a pariah in Hollywood (his membership in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences was revoked in the wake of the #MeToo era).
All of Polanski’s previous efforts have landed distribution in Europe, and his latest could prove no exception. But domestic buyers largely gave the film the cold shoulder. One executive at a prestige distributor in the U.S. skipped the presentation. “No interest,” the buyer said. Another U.S. buyer also ignored the invite. “It’s just not possible to release that film in the U.S. right now,” the executive explained.
Shooting wrapped on An Officer and a Spy — which also stars Polanski’s wife, Emmanuelle Seigner — on April 25.