Roman Polanski to direct film about the Dreyfus Affair
by Fabien Lemercier
11/05/2012 - In his 20th feature, D, Roman Polanski will further explore one of his favourite themes: injustice and the destinies of individuals in the grips of stronger powers. The Franco-Polish maestro is expected to start shooting the film in Paris towards the end of the year. The project, recently revealed to the Hollywood Reporter, will recount the famous Dreyfus Affair that was the talk of town in France at the end of the 19th century.
After he was accused of having passed on secret documents to Germany, French army officer Alfred Dreyfus was in 1894 condemned to be stripped of his rank and permanently deported to Devil’s Island in French Guiana. The sentence followed a sloppy investigation and a violent media campaign to the backdrop of heightened antisemitism. The affair stirred public debate from 1896 to 1898, with writer Emile Zola playing a lead role when he wrote his famous letter J’accuse (lit. "I accuse") to denounce what he saw as a wrongful conviction. Alfred Dreyfus was officially exonerated and rehabilitated into the army in 1906.
"I have long wanted to make a film about the Dreyfus Affair, treating it not as a costume drama but as a spy story," said Polanski, who is writing the screenplay with Robert Harris (The Ghost Writer). "In this way one can show its absolute relevance to what is happening in today's world -- the age-old spectacle of the witch hunt on a minority group, security paranoia, secret military tribunals, out-of-control intelligence agencies, governmental cover-ups and a rabid press."
Robert Benmussa (RP Productions) and Alain Sarde (A.S. Films) will produce the film , and the Americans from Lionsgate-Summit will be in charge of international sales.
Roman Polanski will also be celebrated at the upcoming 65th Cannes film Festival with a screening of the restored version of his film Tess in the Cannes Classics programme.
(Translated from French)