Helmer to pic up lifetime achievement award

BERLIN — Roman Polanski is returning to the Zurich Film Festival to pic up the lifetime achievement award that he was unable to accept in 2009 due to his arrest by Swiss police.

The fest will present Polanski with its A Tribute To award “to honor his outstanding career achievements as a filmmaker.”

The tribute will take place Sept. 27 — two years and a day after his arrest. The world premiere of a full-length non-fiction film will follow the ceremony. The fest has declined to provide details regarding the mystery film.

Polanski was taken into custody at Zurich airport in September 2009 at the request of the U.S. Justice Department for having sex with a 13-year-old girl in 1977. Polanski fled the U.S. in 1978 after pleading guilty to unlawful sexual intercourse with the minor and faced extradition to the U.S. The Swiss government rejected the extradition request in July 2010, and released Polanski from house arrest at his home in Gstaad.

We are especially proud to welcome Roman Polanski this year to receive his award,” said Zurich fest directors Karl Spoerri and Nadja Schildknecht in a statement. “We have always been tremendous admirers of his work, and we are delighted that we will soon be able to express this to him in person.”

Polanski’s latest feature, “Carnage,” premiered this month at the Venice Film Festival.

Past recipients of the fest’s A Tribute To award have included Stephen Frears, Oliver Stone, Constantin Costa-Gavras and Milos Forman. This year the fest is also paying tribute to writer-director Paul Haggis.

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