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MOSCOW – Roman Polanski risked arrest and extradition to the U.S. on Friday when he appeared in public in Poland after traveling from his French home to attend the 38th Gdynia Film Festival.
Polanski, who is understood to have arrived late Thursday night, gave a master class to film school students Friday afternoon at the Baltic seaside resort that is home to Poland’s national film showcase and was due to attend a high-security invitation-only screening of his film Venus in Fur.
The screening was scheduled to take place at 7:30 p.m. local time Friday evening.
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No festival official could be reached for comment on Polanski’s presence, but one Polish attendee confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter that Polanski was in town.
“He is in Gdynia and is at this very moment giving a master class for students,” she said.
“Only film school students that are on the list are being admitted. No press is allowed.”
She added that it was known that Polanski would attend the screening of Venus in Fur later.
Polanski declined to comment to The Hollywood Reporter Friday after his invitation-only master class, which security guards prevented members of the press or public from entering.
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In the class, conducted in Polish, Polanski talked about the process of going from script to screen, according to a student who attended.
None of the students asked him about his return to Poland, but Polanski did reveal some of his favorite recent films: There Will Be Blood and the Polish film Suicide Room.
Festival artistic director Michal Chacinski could not be reached for comment, but earlier this week said the screening of Venus in Fur would be invitation only and subject to high security at the request of the distributors.
Polanski 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.
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.
Four years ago he 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 released after they failed to do so.
Polanski was last in Poland for a friend’s funeral several years ago.
Additional reporting by Kirill Galetski
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