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 and Carnage, 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 and Repulsion, among others), Polanski will take part in a live conversation -- live, that is, though not "in person." Polanski's appearance will take place via Skype, and he is set to discuss Chinatown following a matinee screening of the1974 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. Following the early screening of Chinatown and the Polansk conjuring will be a screening of Polanski's Frantic, starring Harrison Ford, to be introduced by producer Thom Mount.
Roman Polanski will appear as if by magic this Saturday, April 6, after the 12:30 p.m. screening of Chinatown (so about 3 p.m.) at the Roxie Theater, 3117 16th St. The retrospective runs April 5-7. For times and ticket info, call 863-1087 or visit roxie.com.