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Polanski ‘finishing movie under house arrest’

Roman Polanski is finishing the edit of his latest movie, Ghost, while under house arrest in Switzerland, surrounded by family and bombarded by telephone calls of support, French philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy says in an interview.


Levy, a friend of the 76-year-old director, has told the Lausanne-based weekly Le Matin Dimanche he visited Polanski in his chalet in the luxury Swiss resort of Gstaad about 10 days ago and found him like “a rock”, working and confident, even though his family is worried about the US extradition request hanging over him.

“It’s in fact very impressive. He is in the process of finishing at a distance the editing of his next film, which I understand will be in the official selection at the next Berlin festival,” Levy said in the weekly on Sunday.

He said he was able to have a friendly dinner with Polanski in the chalet. Being able to entertain at home was one of the privileges the director received after his December 4 transfer to house arrest from a Swiss jail after more than 60 days of detention.

Polanski has to wear an electronic monitoring bracelet around his ankle to guard against his leaving the grounds of the chalet, but he is able to receive guests inside or outside the house, work on his films, make telephone calls and send emails as much as he likes.

“The telephone doesn’t stop ringing; the messages of support are pouring in, especially from his Swiss friends,” Levy said.

He said Polanski told him Swiss officials were only doing their job in arresting him on September 26 and holding him in detention, but that all of them had treated him with kindness and appeared “extraordinarily embarrassed” by what he was going through.

Swiss authorities have said they will decide early next year whether to extradite Polanski to the US, where he is wanted in Los Angeles for sentencing for having sex in 1977 with a 13-year-old girl.

If Polanski breaks the conditions of his house arrest, the Swiss government would confiscate the $US4.5 million ($A5.1 million) bail he deposited. That substantial amount was a key element in granting the house arrest – a first in Switzerland for a detainee in an extradition case.

Polanski’s two children – Elvis, nine, and Morgane, 16 – and his wife, French actress Emmanuelle Seigner, have been staying in the chalet with him.

The Oscar-winning director of Rosemary’s Baby, Chinatown, and The Pianist was arrested as he arrived in Zurich to receive a lifetime achievement award at a film festival.

Polanski was initially accused of raping the girl after plying her with champagne and a Quaalude pill during a 1977 modelling shoot. He was indicted on six felony counts, including rape by use of drugs, child molestation and sodomy, but he pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of unlawful sexual intercourse.

In exchange, the judge agreed to drop the remaining charges and sent him to prison for a 90-day psychiatric evaluation. The evaluator released Polanski after 42 days, but the judge said he was going to send him back to serve out the 90 days.

The filmmaker fled the US on February 1, 1978, the day he was to be formally sentenced. He has lived since then in France, which does not extradite its citizens.

Polanski has been getting help from his victim in the California case in a bid to have sex misconduct charges against him dismissed.

The lawyer for Samantha Geimer, who long ago publicly identified herself, argued earlier this month for an end to the case, saying she has repeatedly said she wants it dropped.

The California Second District Court of Appeal is being asked to decide if it should order a lower court to consider dismissing the case without Polanski’s attendance in court.

Polanski claims that the US judge and prosecutors acted improperly in his case.