New film about Roman Polanski will be 'opinion changing'


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The Independent Culture

A new film about controversial director Roman Polanski will be "opinion changing" and allow audiences to hear about his turbulent life in his own words, its director said today.

The 90-minute documentary tells Polanski's life story, beginning with his childhood in the Krakow ghetto, the death of his mother and murder of his pregnant wife Sharon Tate, through to his 1977 arrest for sex with a 13-year-old girl.

Director Laurent Bouzereau said the film, which he has brought to this year's Cannes Film Festival, was to show people who think they know Polanski's story that they may not have it right.

"They know the stories the media want them to know, or they've heard something and therefore they make an assumption," Bouzereau said.

"But really only he knows the story, only he knows how to tell the story.

"Yes, it's his own perspective but there are certain facts that are stated in this movie that I believe are important because they've not really been stated properly until now."

Polanski's personal life is itself the stuff of a great Hollywood movie - the director, now 78, pleaded guilty to having unlawful intercourse with 13-year-old Samantha Geimer in the US in 1977.

He fled the US on the eve of sentencing and was re-arrested in Zurich in 2009 and then spent months in prison and under house arrest but avoided extradition.

He has since apologised to his victim and settled a civil case with her in the 90s.

Prior to this he endured great personal tragedy - his wife, American actress Tate, was eight and a half months pregnant when she was murdered in 1969, along with four others, by followers of Charles Manson.

His half-Jewish mother, Bula, was taken to Birkenau in 1943, part of the Auschwitz complex, where she was killed in a gas chamber. She was four months pregnant at the time.

The film, titled Roman Polanski: A Film Memoir, was shot when he was under house arrest in Gstaad, Switzerland, and shows his breaking down and talking candidly about some of these more difficult matters.

Bouzereau said he previously organised a screening in Los Angeles for industry professionals and the feedback was quite revolutionary.

"People I did not even know came to me and said: 'We walked in hating him and we walked out loving him, at least came out understanding, so thank you for enlightening us'," he said.

"I do feel that it's an opinion changing movie - that's the way I've experienced it from people who had a strong opinion against him coming out of it."

Bouzereau said he considered himself good friends with the director, who he had known for around 14 years, but the decision to use Polanski's friend Andrew Braunsberg as the interviewer in the documentary was so that he was not attacked.

LA-based Bouzereau added: "The goal with it was not to learn something new but to hear it from the man himself."

Asked what he would like Polanski's legacy to be, Bouzereau said his greatest personal legacy was probably his wife, French actress Emmanuelle Seigner, and their two children.

Professionally, his work as one of the "pure cinema directors" who others looked to for inspiration would outlive him, Bouzereau said.

"It's one thing to be successful and get an Oscar and get Pamle d'Or or whatever, it is something else 20 years later that people are still talking about you, they're still anxious to see your next film, they still look back at those films and still think they're timeless. He's accomplished that on all levels.

"I think he's an incredible, incredible man and artist."