Roman Polanski, the famed director and convicted sex offender, is working on a film about a wrongly accused man.
The French-Jewish filmmaker is set to begin shooting a movie later this year about Capt. Alfred Dreyfus, the French-Jewish soldier who was falsely accused of spying for the Germans. Dreyfus was tried and convicted of treason in 1894, but he was later pardoned, set free and exonerated of the charges. Public opinion and antisemitism were said to play a significant role in the story. The Dreyfus Affair, as it became known, has remained a famous and well-known chapter in history that has been made into dozens of plays and films.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Polanski is slated to begin shooting the movie, called J’Accuse, for Legende Films in Paris in the coming months. The report stated that Louis Garrel will play Dreyfus and Oscar-winner Jean Dujardin will play the officer who proved his innocence.
Polanski has been working on this film project for the past six years. But, in the wake of the #MeToo movement, his acceptance in the international film community is more in question than ever.
In 1977, he was arrested and charged with raping a 13-year- old girl. Polanski cut a deal and plead guilty to statutory rape, but fled the US before he could be sentenced or imprisoned. He has largely lived in France, escaping extradition, ever since.
Polanski, now 85, has continued to produce films and even won an Oscar in 2003 for The Pianist. But earlier this year, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences voted to expel him in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal and the body’s vow to uphold new standards of conduct.
News of Polanski’s new film was greeted by skepticism by some, and outright hostility from others.
Writing in The Independent, Annie Corcoran said that “the fact that he is able to make this film at all is astonishing... A rich, straight, white man who has yet again proved that society cares more about his career than victims of sexual assault.”
In SPIN magazine, Maggie Serota wrote an op-ed titled “The World Does Not Need This New Roman Polanski Movie.”
And CNN anchor Jake Tapper shared a link to the news on Twitter, adding just one word: “yikes.”
Last year, Polanski sued Israeli activist Matan Uziel for NIS 1.5 million on libel charges. Uziel said that five separate women told him that Polanski had raped or assaulted them over the years. The case is still ongoing.