Hyperbolists will have a field day applying heightened language to Saturday's event at the Roxie, but the simple fact is that, for San Francisco cineastes, this represents a once-in-a-generation kind of event. Under the threat of arrest and imprisonment in the United States since he fled in 1978, Roman Polanski has been primarily a French resident ever since. (Having been born in France, he has been protected from extradition by his citizenship there.) Though the recipient of an Oscar in 2003 for The Pianist
, it was awarded in absentia; Polanski's films, including the U.S.-set The Ghost Writer
, have all been shot in Europe. (The Ghost Writer
, a very effective thriller nonetheless, retains the distinctive feel of its German locations; not once do we feel we are on Martha's Vineyard.) But, after more than three decades out of the country, Polanski will make a rare U.S. appearance right here in San Francisco. As part of the Roxie's weekend Roman Polanski retrospective
(which is set to include screenings of The Tenant
, among others), Polanski will take part in a live conversation — live, that is, though not "in person" — via Skype with movie producer Thom Mount (who will be at the theater himself), and they are set to discuss Chinatown
following a matinee screening of the 1974 masterpiece. This occasion should rightfully rank as monumental in the mind of any cinephile, and the fact that it's taking place right here in San Francisco adds to the sense of rarity.
Editor's Note: Despite earlier announcements to the contrary, screenwriter Robert Towne will in fact not be in attendance at this weekend's event. Thom Mount (producer of Frantic and Death and the Maiden) will host the Q&A with Polanski instead.
April 5-7, 2013