Roman Polanski film to premiere at Venice amid judging row

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Polanski has denied recent sexual assault allegations against him

Roman Polanski’s new film is set to premiere at the Venice Film Festival on Friday, despite the jury president boycotting the screening.

Argentinean director Lucrezia Martel said she did not want to “congratulate” the director and that his inclusion in the festival made her “uncomfortable”.

Polanski is wanted in the US after admitting to sex with a minor in 1977.

Martel later stressed she had no “prejudice” against his new film, and would see it after the gala premiere.

Called An Officer and a Spy, the film is an historical thriller which tells the true story of a French Jewish army officer, Alfred Dreyfus, who was falsely accused of treason in the 19th Century.

It stars Oscar-winning actor Jean Dujardin as a French officer, who uncovers evidence that Dreyfus was framed and risks his life to expose the truth

The 86-year-old director is not due to appear for the screening of the film on Friday evening.

Polanski pleaded guilty to unlawful sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old girl in Los Angeles in 1977, but then fled the US.

He currently divides his time between France, Poland, his ancestral homeland, and Switzerland, all of which have refused to extradite him.

At a press conference earlier in the week, Martel said she found it hard to separate Polanski’s art from his past crime.

“I do not divide the artists from their works of art. I think that important aspects about the work of art emerge from the man,” she said.

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The film stars Louis Garrel, Emmanuelle Seigner and Jean Dujardin, who won an Oscar for The Artist

On Thursday, she issued a statement saying she had “recognized a lot of humanity in Polanski’s previous films”.

“If I had any prejudice [toward the film], I would have resigned my duty as the president of the jury,” she added.

Following Martel’s initial comments, the film’s producers released an interview between Polanski and French writer Pascal Bruckner, in which the director dismissed new abuse claims against him.

He said these were “absurd stories by women I have never seen before in my life who accuse me of things which supposedly happened more than half a century ago”.

An Officer and a Spy is among the 21 movies selected to compete for the top prize at Venice.

Only two films in the running are directed by women.