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Polanski wins best director award for 'Ghost Writer'

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-02-21

French-Polish film maker Roman Polanski's winning film "Ghost Writer" was completed while under house arrest in Switzerland. He is wanted in the US for charges of sex with a minor.

AFP - Roman Polanski put the finishing touches on "The Ghost Writer", for which he won best director honours at the Berlin Film Festival Saturday, from the confines of house arrest at his Swiss chalet.
The French-Polish film-maker is now in his 12th week there and restrained by little more than an electronic bracelet as Swiss authorities mull whether to extradite him to the United States to face child sex charges dating from 1977.
The director of "Rosemary's Baby", "Chinatown", "The Pianist" and other classics was arrested on a US warrant on September 26 as he arrived in Switzerland to collect an award for his career at the Zurich film festival.
It was there that his past caught up with him.
Polanski was transferred to the picture-postcard Alpine valley of Gstaad on December 4 after a Swiss court granted him conditional bail of 4.5 million Swiss francs (3.0 million euros, 4.2 million dollars) and ordered him to stay there.
A few weeks later, a friend, French philosopher Bernard Henry Levy, said he found Polanski in snowbound Gstaad editing what would become his latest award winner.
"Roman Polanski spends his days, his nights, again his days, again his nights, trying to finish his film," Levy said on his blog after his visit.
Polanski's long-time producer Robert Benmussa said the director's arrest created unexpected complications.
"Despite his incarceration, Roman continued to work on the film through courier packages that we sent to him in prison through his Swiss lawyer. Then, when he was in his chalet, he continued to work on the movie, putting the last touches (on) the final print," he told reporters in Berlin.
The 76-year-old was welcomed to Gstaad by his wife and children, and is free to receive visitors as he pleases.
But he is unlikely to be able to move beyond his garden for weeks if not many months.
Swiss authorities said earlier this month that their decision on extradition cannot be made until the film-maker exhausts his rights to appeal in the United States. His lawyers have until March 24 to file their appeal in Los Angeles.
Even then, the process could take up to a year because of the right for each party to appeal any decision on extradition in Switzerland's highest courts, Swiss Justice Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf pointed out recently.
Polanski fled the United States 32 years ago just before being sentenced.
He had admitted to giving his then 13-year-old victim champagne and drugs during a 1977 photo shoot at the Hollywood Hills home of actor friend Jack Nicholson before having sex with her despite her protests.
Lawyers for the victim, Samantha Geir, filed a court motion in October in Los Angeles renewing calls for the case against the director to be dismissed because of the anguish the renewed attention was causing her.

Date created : 2010-02-21


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