Filming for Roman Polański’s latest feature, which tells the story of the Dreyfus affair, may take place in Kraków – said its producer Robert Benmussa during a press conference in the Kraków Sukiennice.
Benmussa has revealed that the film about the Dreyfus affair will be a large production on par with The Pianist. The espionage thriller will take place in Paris in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The sets will be built in a Polish studio. The film is expected to cost about €35 million and the first images are expected by the spring of 2015. The film will be in English but the cast has not been revealed as of yet. However, we do know that Paweł Edelman, Polański’s regular associate, will be in charge of the cinematography.
The protagonist will be Col. Picquart, who led the investigation into the Dreyfus affair.
“This isn’t a story about Dreyfus himself, but about inequality in the whole world. Col. Piquart reminds me of Snowden” – wrote the producer, underlining that Polanski has been interested in this project for many years.
Alfred Dreyfus according to Polański
The Dreyfus affair shook France in the fin de siècle period. Alfred Dreyfus, a young Jewish artillery officer, was found guilty of treason (selling French military secrets to the German embassy in Paris) on the basis of falsified evidence and was exiled to Devil’s Island in Guyana in 1894. Despite new evidence being revealed that it was in fact Ferdinand Esterhazy that leaked the information, the evidence was covered up by the French generals. The scandal was revealed by the writer Émile Zola, who published the open letter “J’accuse” in 1898.
Dreyfus was put on trial but found guilty again. He was pardoned in 1899 but it wasn’t until 1906 that all charges were dropped. Eight years later, he fought in World War I and was promoted to the rank of colonel. The Dreyfus affair revealed many political divisions in France at the time. The most prominent was the split between the right-wing, monarchist and clerical circles and the republican, anti-monarchist and anticlerical ones. Anti-semitism also played an important role in the affair. The Dreyfus affair was one of the main catalysts for the emergence of the Zionist movement.
Polański in Kraków again?
Kraków is one of the locations being considered by the producers of the film, but the final decision will be taken after reviewing the Warsaw production facilities ATM Studio and the Documentary and Feature Film Studios. Apart from technical considerations – says Robert Benmussa – a key concern is security. The filmmakers want to make sure that work on the film won’t be stopped because of Polański’s legal issues in the USA.
“We hope that Mr. Polański, an outstanding figure whose name promotes our country all over the world, will be afforded appropriate protection in our country. – says Jan Olszewski, Mr. Polański’s attorney. “Mr. Polański is a citizen of our country and a man who always thinks, speaks and feels in Polish” – he stressed.
According to a spokesman of the Ministry of Justice, extradition between the US and Poland is based on an agreement between the Polish Republic and the United States of America. According to the agreement, neither party is obliged to extradite its own citizen. A possible extradition must be preceded by an arrest and an investigation into the case.
Polański’s advisers have also revealed that the director has decided to live in Kraków.
He is already registered in the city and has rented a flat. His dream is to live here with his children and show them where he grew up. In particular, he would like to show his children Auschwitz, where their grandma died, the Under the Eagle Pharmacy and the Wieliczka salt mine. – says his representative Jerzy Stachowicz.
The city authorities have supported the decision to locate the film in Kraków. Vice President of Kraków Magdalena Sroka confirmed that the city and the Kraków Film Commission were ready to support this project. “We are excited and proud that Roman Polański wishes to return to Kraków and pursue his film here.” – she said, adding that Kraków would be proud if the director was awarded honorary citizenship of the city.
Source: PAP, edited by BS
Translated by Alexander Sikorski