"Better late than never": Polanski gets his award

Tue Sep 27, 2011 5:27pm EDT
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By Silke Koltrowitz

ZURICH (Reuters) - "Better late than never" was how director Roman Polanski summed up his feelings on Tuesday as he received an award from the Zurich film festival two years after being arrested on his way to pick up the prize.

Polanski was intercepted at Zurich airport by Swiss police on September 26, 2009 and held in prison and later house arrest until Swiss authorities decided in 2010 not to extradite him to the United States due to technical faults in the U.S. request.

The Oscar-winning Polish-French film maker, who had holidayed in his chalet in luxury Swiss resort Gstaad for years before the arrest, is wanted in the United States for the alleged rape of a minor in 1977.

"What can I say?" said the visibly moved 78-year-old as he picked up his lifetime achievement award.

"Better late than never. It's a strange anniversary for me, two years, day for day.

"Certain parts of it I'd rather forget, but I'm happy to be here. It is a very moving moment for me so do not expect any speeches."

The director behind acclaimed movies including "Chinatown" and "The Pianist" thanked those who had supported him during "these difficult months".

"I would in particular like to thank the prison staff who tried to make my stay as bearable as possible, including the head of the prison of Zurich."   Continued...

<p>Director Roman Polanski reacts next to Festival Directors Karl Spoerri (L) and Nadia Schildknecht (C) after receiving his lifetime achievement award at the Zurich Film Festival, September 27, 2011. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann</p>