Skip To Content

Roman Polanski’s Dreyfus Film, Seen As Defense Against Rape Conviction, Wins Venice Award

Roman Polanski’s “An Officer and a Spy (J’Accuse),” the director and convicted child rapist’s film about the Dreyfus affair, has won a prestigious award from the Venice Film Festival.

Reviews from the festival noted that, while the film was technically accomplished, Polanski had in interviews drawn direct parallels between his own case and that of Dreyfus, a French army captain whose wrongful 1894 conviction for treason became the center of a violent escalation of French anti-Semitism.

Polanski, who pled guilty to charges of child rape in 1977, fled the United States before his sentencing in January, 1978. He has lived in Europe since.

In Dreyfus’s case, Polanski said in an interview distributed with the film’s press packet, “I can see the same determination to deny the facts and condemn me for things I have not done.”

The announcement of the film as the winner of the festival’s Silver Lion Grand Jury Prize, its second-most prestigious award, was met with dismay.

Writing for Jezebel, Emily Alford summarized the source of the sentiments. “Since his conviction, Polanski has been persecuted with an Oscar, two Golden Globes, and the Cannes Palme d’Or,” she wrote, “which is exactly like the story he tells in his film except that Alfred Dreyfus didn’t do it, had to go to prison after he was convicted, and wasn’t given a wheelbarrow full of awards by people who never gave a shit about the crime he was accused of in the first place.”

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.