Roman Polanski to Shoot ‘Dreyfus Affair’ in Poland if Legal Assurances Given

MUNICH — Roman Polanski is planning to shoot a film about the Dreyfus Affair in Poland, but is seeking assurances from the Polish government that he will be safe from extradition to the U.S.

“We have yet to make the final decision. It depends on at least two factors,” said the project’s French producer Robert Benmussa. “The first is a technical condition that is up to the film studios, and already at this stage we know that this condition has been met. The second factor is of a legal nature. We need confirmation in writing that Roman Polanski’s status in Poland is that of complete security.”

Polanski has dual French and Polish nationality, which should make him safe from extradition to the U.S., where he is wanted for a 1977 sex crime conviction. The Polish government has the option of extraditing him, but is unlikely to do so. Polanski visited Poland last year for a film festival without a hitch.

Polanski’s attorneys in Poland, Jerzy Stachowicz and Jan Olszewski, are seeking the necessary legal assurances. “I hope that together with the government authorities we will be able to provide Mr Roman Polanski with the security and legal comfort he needs to work on his plans in Poland — those related to the production of this film, and those of a more personal nature,” Olszewski said.

Krakow is a likely location, according to the Polish Film Institute, and will serve as Polanski’s base.

“Roman Polanski has decided to live in Krakow,” Stachowicz said. “He has taken permanent residence in the city and leased an apartment. He dreams of bringing his children here in order to show them where he grew up.”

The Dreyfus film has a budget of approximately €35 million ($47.9 million), said Benmussa, who has been in Poland to scout out locations and production facilities, including Alvernia Studios, ATM Film Studio and WFDiF. Shooting is skedded to start next spring.

“This is a large-scale project, comparable with ‘The Pianist,’” Benmussa said. “The film is set in (late 19th century and early 20th century) Paris; we will have a lot of sets to build. That’s why we are visiting Polish studios.”

The project, which has the working title of “The Dreyfus Affair,” is based on Robert Harris’ novel “An Officer and a Spy.” The pic will be an international co-production made in English with English and American actors.

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