Director Roman Polanski will attend the Locarno Film Festival as a surprise guest, five years after he was arrested in Switzerland on sexual abuse charges in the United States while attending the Zurich Film Festival.
The French-Polish director, who has a chalet in the Bernese Oberland resort of Gstaad, will be recognised with a special award in Locarno and will also give a public master class at the annual festival that begins August 6.
He will also present his latest film, Venus in Fur, an adaptation of a 2010 play by David Ives.
“Roman Polanski’s films have been a regular feature of my trajectory as a filmgoer - making me laugh, shiver, think, and be emotionally moved,” said Locarno Film Festival Director Carlo Chatrian. “It has been an enormous pleasure to follow the work of this unique artist who has managed to translate turning points in his own life so creatively…”
The Le Temps newspaper reports that the Locarno Film Festival team is “hardly concerned” about Polanski’s past travails at Swiss film festivals. In September 2009, he was arrested upon entering the country to attend the Zurich Film Festival having long been wanted by the United States for having sex with a 13-year-old girl in 1977.
He was placed under house arrest in his Gstaad chalet but ultimately released when the Swiss refused to extradite him.
Polanski currently lives in France with his wife, actress and comedian Emannuelle Seigner.
Last year’s surprise guest of honour at the Locarno Film Festival was the German director Werner Herzog.