Absent Polanski to dominate Berlin film festival

Tue Feb 9, 2010 6:17am EST
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

BERLIN (Reuters) - Roman Polanski may be under house arrest in a Swiss chalet, but the Polish-French director is set to dominate this year's Berlin film festival where his latest movie "The Ghost Writer" will be unveiled.

Interest in the 76-year-old's film, one of 20 competition entries vying for awards at the February 11-21 event, has inevitably soared since his sensational arrest in Switzerland in September.

Polanski, the Oscar-winning maker of classics like "Chinatown" and "Rosemary's Baby," is now fighting extradition to the United States to face sentencing over a 1977 case of unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl. Festival director Dieter Kosslick, hoping for a classic edition of the annual cinema showcase to mark its 60th year, has confirmed that the Oscar winner will not attend the red carpet world premiere Friday, as is the norm at such events.

Neither is he likely to appear in a video message from the confines of his holiday home in Gstaad.

Yet despite Polanski's absence, The Ghost Writer is expected to attract more attention than any of the hundreds of movies being screened in and out of competition in Berlin this year.

Polanski reportedly put the finishing touches to the thriller based on a Robert Harris novel while in prison, and the fictional former British prime minister played by Pierce Brosnan is widely understood to be loosely based on Tony Blair.

Ewan McGregor is the ghost writer of the title brought in to pen the ex-premier's memoirs, but when he stumbles across a global conspiracy involving his employer he must race to uncover the truth before it is too late.

Polanski's notoriety and the political nature of the film are likely to boost the profile of Berlin, which has come in for a critical drubbing in recent years as it struggles to compete with other major festivals like Cannes and Toronto.

SCORSESE IS BACK   Continued...

<p>A flag with the logo of the Berlinale International Film Festival flies in front of the Victory Column (Siegessaeule) in Berlin February 9, 2010. REUTERS/Thomas Peter</p>