The 60th Berlin Film Festival wrapped up Sunday after crowning Roman Polanski best director, although the filmmaker who is under house arrest in Switzerland over a 1977 sex case missed the premiere of his latest movie.
Polanski won the plaudit for his political thriller, The Ghost Writer, while the jury awarded the festival’s top Golden Bear prize to a Turkish family drama.
Turkish director Semih Kaplanoglu’s film Bal (Honey) bagged the Golden Bear for best movie.
Polanski, 76, is fighting extradition to the US over the case in which he earlier admitted having sex with a 13-year-old girl.
The Silver Bear trophy was accepted by a producer of the film, Alain Sarde, at a gala ceremony late Saturday.
“I am sure Roman will be very happy,” he said.
“However, when I was lamenting with him that he cannot be with us, he said to me, ‘Even if I could, I wouldn’t because the last time I went to a festival to get a prize, I ended up in jail’,” he quipped.
Sarde was referring to the director’s arrest in September on a US warrant when he went to Zurich to accept an award. Polanski finished work on The Ghost Writer while confined to his Swiss chalet.
Berlin’s B.Z. am Sonntag tabloid called the decision a “scandal”, amounting to offering Polanski “general amnesty” for his crime.
“The fact the Berlinale world stage is used for this second-rate spectacle leaves a nasty aftertaste and does lasting damage to the festival,” it wrote.
Industry magazine The Hollywood Reporter said it was impossible to separate Polanski’s work from the criminal case in the public mind.