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Cannes Market Watch: Polanski to Direct Period Thriller 'D,' on Dreyfus Affair

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood May 9, 2012 at 3:35PM

Roman Polanski's next indie-financed film will be the political thriller “D,” based on the 19th century political scandal Dreyfus Affair in France.
Roman Polanski
Roman Polanski
Dreyfuss Affair

Roman Polanski's next indie-financed film will be the political thriller “D,” based on the 19th century political scandal Dreyfus Affair in France. Captain Alfred Dreyfuss was incarcerated on Devil's Island for spying, when another man was eventually revealed to be innocent; Emile Zola among others accused the French government of anti-semitism.

Poalnski is working again with the team behind 2010's "The Ghost Writer," writer Robert Harris and his long-time producers Robert Benmussa and Alain Sarde. Casting will begin shortly with plans to start production in Paris by the end of the year.  Lionsgate/Summit International will sell international rights in Cannes, with ICM handling North American rights.

“I have long wanted to make a film about the Dreyfus Affair, treating it not as a costume drama but as a spy story,” said Polanski.  “In this way one can show its absolute relevance to what is happening in today’s world – the age-old spectacle of the witch-hunt of a minority group, security paranoia, secret military tribunals, out-of-control intelligence agencies, governmental cover-ups, and a rabid press.”

Synopsis below:

In December 1894, Captain Alfred Dreyfus, one of the few Jewish officers on the General Staff of the French Army, was subjected to a secret court martial for passing secrets to the Germans. Found guilty, he was sentenced to life imprisonment and sent to Devil’s Island.However, the man charged with making sure Dreyfus never returned – Colonel Georges Picquart, the newly-appointed head of French counter-intelligence – gradually began to realize a huge mistake had been made and the real traitor was still at large. His attempts to prove it led him into a direct clash with his superiors. Picquart himself was then framed for crimes he had not committed and sent to prison. It was to be twelve years before Dreyfus was eventually cleared of all charges. By then, the case had become one of the most talked-about events in the world.

Polanski's last film, "Carnage," was released stateside by Sony Pictures Classics; he was circling a thriller, "True Crime."

This article is related to: Roman Polanski, Cannes, Cannes Film Festival

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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.