Roman Polanksi Finally Picks Up Lifetime Achievement Award in Zurich

Love him or loathe him, Roman Polanski has officially, finally been recognized by the Zurich Film Festival. His acceptance of the fest's Lifetime Achievement Award comes two years after his previous attempt, when authorities arrested the notorious U.S. fugitive upon arrival at the airport. Thus commenced a 10-month culture-war odyssey that found Polanski in and out of jail while lawyers, commentators, detractors and defenders alike shouted over each other for what seemed like ages. Technically some of them still shout, but Polanski himself may have had the last word in Zurich.

The Guardian was there when Polanski, who fled America in 1978 to avoid sentencing after his conviction for unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl, accepted his hardware:

"What can I say? Better late than never," he said, laughing as he took to the stage after sustained applause and a standing ovation from the film festival audience. "It's a very moving moment for me."

Polanski was unexpectedly detained on an American warrant when he landed at Zurich airport on his way to the film festival in September 2009. [...] "It was not only a blow to me, but also to my family and the festival itself," he said of his arrest in 2009. "I would in particular like to thank the prison staff who tried to make my stay as bearable as possible, including the head of the prison of Zurich."

There was loud laughter in the audience, but Polanski interjected: "This is not a joke." He said he was "too touched by the situation."

Meanwhile, the top-secret documentary that screened as part of the event turned out to be a series of Polanski interviews entitled Roman Polanski: A Film Memoir. Director Laurent Bouzereau reportedly features Polanski apologizing to Samantha Reimer, whom he plied with drugs and raped 34 years ago: "She is a double victim: my victim and a victim of the press."

And of course Polanski's Carnage opens the New York Film Festival this Friday. Not a bad week! What a difference two years makes.

[Photo: AFP/Getty Images]

· Roman Polanski gets Zurich film festival award after two-year wait [The Guardian]

· Roman Polanski Apologizes to Woman He Sexually Assaulted in New Documentary [THR]