Roman Polanski Returns to Poland to Shoot Film About His Childhood

Roman Polanski Prix Lumiere - Getty - H 2017
Dominique Charriau/WireImage

It is the first time the controversial director has been to Poland since a Polish court rejected a U.S. extradition request last year.

Roman Polanski has returned to Poland for the first time since the country's top court rejected a U.S. extradition request last year to shoot a documentary about his life in wartime Krakow.

Polanski, who had long been sought by U.S. authorities after fleeing the country in the 1970s following a conviction for unlawful sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old girl, was again in the headlines earlier this month when a former German actress, Renate Langer, claimed the Oscar-winning director raped her in 1972.

Following last December's decision by Poland's Supreme Court to reject the U.S. extradition request, Polanski, who has dual French-Polish citizenship, is free to travel to Poland.

Polanski is making a documentary — working title Polansk, Horowitz — about his childhood and youth in the southern Polish city with his longtime friend, the photographer Ryszard Horowitz, the film's Polish executive producer KRK Film said Tuesday.

Polanski was 9 years old when he met Horowitz, then age 3, in a Jewish ghetto in the city. Horowitz, now 78, is one of the youngest survivors of the Holocaust, and his story was told by Steven Spielberg in the Oscar-winning movie Schindler’s List.

Polanski and Horowitz are visiting places neither has seen since the war, including the small village near Krakow where Polanski went into hiding after escaping the ghetto and the apartment where Horowitz developed his first photos.

Horowitz has lived for more than 60 years in New York; after fleeing U.S. justice in 1978, Polanski has lived in France.

"For us, this film is a great responsibility," said producer Anna Kokoszka-Romer. "Our main characters entrusted us with their incredibly personal memories. They have so many stories to tell, sometimes it’s really hard for us to keep up."

Filming has brought back memories for Polanski, KRK Film said in a statement, quoting the 84-year-old filmmaker as saying during a visit to the site of the Podgorze ghetto: "The greatest suffering was having to live without my parents. First, they took my mother from the ghetto, then my father."