Roman Polanski Honored at Polish Film Festival

PKO Off-Camera Film Festival
Roman Polanski at Friday's festival event

The 81-year-old director is due in court later this month in the same city where he received the honor to deal with a U.S. request for extradition on rape charges.

Roman Polanski has been given one of Poland's top film festival awards in Krakow, the city where he grew up during the war, and where he'll return on May 22 to deal with a renewed U.S. extradition request on rape charges.

The director received the "Against the Current" award late Friday at the opening of the eighth edition of the PKO Off-Camera Film Festival, which celebrates international independent cinema by first- and second-time filmmakers.

Polanski accepted the award — designed, organizers says, for filmmakers who have demonstrated artistic independence and carved out a distinctive niche — from Polish actor Andrzej Seweryn, who appeared in Steven Spielberg's 1993 multiple-Oscar-winning concentration camp film Schindler's List, with Agnieszka Odorowicz, head of the Polish Film Institute looking on.

Radio Poland, quoting festival organizers, said the award was given to Polanski for bringing to American cinema "European doubts and non-compliance," and to European cinema, "American respect for the audience, discipline and professionalism."

Polanski, casually dressed in a blue suit with a white shirt but no tie, told the audience that he was "extremely touched" by the award. "This is my city. Years spent in Krakow undoubtedly shaped my artistic soul," he said in remarks published by the Polish Film Institute.

A special screening of Polanski's first feature, his Oscar-nominated 1963 film Knife in the Water, is due to be held at the festival which runs until May 10.

Polanski is due back in court in Krakow on May 22, when a decision may be made on whether he can stay in Poland or will be extradited to the U.S.

The 81-year-old director is currently fighting a renewed attempt by the U.S to extradite him to face sentencing on charges of raping a 13 year-old girl in 1977.

Earlier this month, Polish judge Dariusz Mazur demanded more documents from U.S. authorities to back up their extradition request.

Polanski hopes he will be free to remain in Krakow, where is prepping a new film about the Dreyfus Affair, a notorious miscarriage of justice case in early 20th century France, adapted from British novelist Robert Harris' thriller An Officer and a Spy.