Roman Polanski to Direct Dreyfus Affair Drama 'D'

Roman Polanski-Scopus Award gala-2011

The filmmaker says the infamous 1890s spy case is relevant to the witch hunts and governmental cover-ups going on today.

Roman Polanski's next film will be the political thriller D, based on the notorious Dreyfus Affair.

D reunites Polanski with The Ghost Writer screenwriter Robert Harris and producers Robert Benmussa and Alain Sarde.

The film will be independently financed. Lionsgate/Summit International is representing foreign rights, while ICM is representing North American rights.

Polanski intends to begin shooting in Paris by the end of the year. Casting is underway.

The Dreyfus Affair is considered one of the most sensational political scandals in history and an enormous miscarriage of justice. In December 1894, Captain Alfred Dreyfus -- one of the few Jewish officers on the general staff of the French Army -- was subjected to a secret court martial after being accused of passing secrets to the Germans.

Dreyfus was sentenced to life imprisonment and sent to Devil's Island. However, Col. Georges Picquart gradually began to realize that the real traitor was still at large. His efforts to prove his theory caused him to clash with his superiors, and Picquart was framed for crimes he did not commit.

As for Dreyfus, he was eventually was cleared of all charges, but it took 12 years.

"I have long wanted to make a film about the Dreyfus Affair, treating it not as a costume drama but as a spy story," Polanski said in announcing the project.

"In this way one can show its absolute relevance to what is happening in today's world -- the age-old spectacle of the witch hunt on a minority group, security paranoia, secret military tribunals, out-of-control intelligence agencies, governmental cover-ups and a rabid press," he continued.

Lionsgate International will have a substantial presence at the Cannes film market, though it might hold back D for a later market.