Last week, the United States unsuccessfully petitioned the Polish government to arrest film director Roman Polanski and hold him for extradition.
In a rather extraordinary bit of tactlessness, the US made the request while Polanski, a Polish-born Holocaust survivor, was visiting Poland for the opening of the country’s new Polin Museum of the History of Polish Jews, a point Polish officials made sure to emphasize in denying the request.
Polanski, of course, is still wanted in the US for the rape of then-13-year-old Samantha Geimar in 1977. But he has been in and out of Poland quite frequently of late as he prepares to shoot his next movie, which will focus on the infamous Dreyfus Affair, the 1894 trial and conviction of French Jewish officer Alfred Dreyfus on fraudulent espionage charges.
Polanski will reportedly base his movie on the Robert Harris novel, “An Officer and a Spy,” a thriller about another French officer who begins to investigate the Dreyfus case and unmasks the conspiracy. The movie has been in the works since at least 2012 and is supposed to start shooting in the spring.
The themes of anti-Semitism and government persecution likely resonate deeply for Polanski, who explored some of those same themes in his Oscar-winning film “The Pianist,” which was set amidst the Holocaust and drew on Polanski’s own childhood memories.
Polanski intends to shoot the film in Poland, provided that the government can assure that he will not be extradited.
After the events of last week, that looks like a pretty safe bet.