Polanski movie to compete in Berlin

'The Ghost Writer' to premiere at 60th Berlin festival

BERLIN -- "The Ghost Writer," the new film from incarcerated director Roman Polanski, will premiere in competition at the 60th Berlin International Film Festival.

The thriller, which Polanski shot in Studio Babelsberg outside Berlin and finished while in prison in Switzerland, stars Ewan McGregor as an author hired to ghostwrite the memoirs of a former British Prime Minister (Pierce Brosnan) who discovers a dark secret that puts his life in danger.

Polanski was released from prison earlier this month but remains under house arrest at his chalet in the Swiss ski resort of Gstaad. The Oscar-winning director is fighting extradition to the United States, where he faces decades-old charges of having unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl. Polanski's lawyers have called on the case to be tossed out, claiming serious misconduct by the presiding judge back in 1977.

Polanski's arrest set off a media frenzy -- with pundits racing both to defend and condemn the 76-year-old filmmaker. Some Hollywood VIPs and many prominent European filmmakers and politicians were furious and demanded Polanski be set free.

The decision to screen "The Ghost Writer" in competition is a controversial one. The Berlin jury's verdict on the film may be seen as taking sides in the ongoing legal debate.

But the premiere will provide plenty of free publicity for Summit Entertainment, who just picked up North American rights to "The Ghost Writer" and plan to release the film in the first half of 2010.

The Berlin fest is set for Feb. 11-21.