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When most directors scout locations for upcoming projects, they worry about things like lighting, background and tax credits. When Roman Polanski does it, he has to worry about extradition agreements, which is why his next film, An Officer and A Spy, is suddenly in trouble.
The acclaimed 80-year-old director, who has been living in France since the late 1970s, wants to shoot his next film in Poland, specifically in Krakow and Warsaw. Because of the European nation’s extradition treaty with the United States, however, shooting there would potentially put him at risk to be arrested. He obviously doesn’t want that to happen and according to The Hollywood Reporter, will not begin principal photography until he’s given official government assurance that he’ll be safe, which puts Polish authorities in a bit of a quagmire. They want the prestige and money that comes with housing a new $40 million production from one of the world’s top filmmakers, but one would imagine they’re also not very excited about a) pissing off the United States and b) passively endorsing statutory rape.
The case against Roman Polanski is almost four decades old, and it’s every bit as complicated as it was back in 1977. The filmmaker, then 43-years-old and 8 years removed from the murder of his pregnant wife Sharon Tate, invited a 13-year-old girl over to Jack Nicholson’s house to participate in a photo shoot for the French edition of Vogue. The two of them shared some champagne. He gave her a Quaalude, and despite her objections, they had sex. Exactly how forceful she was about rejecting him has long been a matter of debate, but regardless, she was 13 and his actions were way over the line. He was later charged with numerous crimes and pled guilty in exchange for what he thought was counseling and probation. The judge and prosecutor allegedly changed their mind prior to sentencing, however, and hearing he would be thrown in jail, Roman Polanski fled the country. He’s remained on the run ever since.
In the years since the director fled from justice, he’s spent the majority of his time in France and other European countries that will not deport over crimes such as "unlawful sex with a minor." He was arrested in Switzerland a few years ago, however, and nearly sent back to The United States; so, the threat of extradition is one that is still very much in play, though it’s unlikely Poland will ultimately turn down a chance to have such a high profile movie filmed inside its borders. Besides, Roman Polanski was born to Polish parents, which means his protections under local law are that much stronger.
Both Polanski and his accuser have asked for the charges to be dropped so everyone can just move on with their lives, but the US Justice Department has shown no interest in doing that. So, expect this mess to go on for the rest of the director’s life.