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J’accuse – Roman Polanski

Annual Top Films Lists

Top 150 Most Anticipated Foreign Films of 2019: #10. J’accuse – Roman Polanski

Top 150 Most Anticipated Foreign Films of 2019: #10. J’accuse – Roman Polanski


Controversial director Roman Polanski embarks on his 22nd film production J’accuse this fall, a recuperation of the infamous Dreyfus Affair which he’s been working on for the past several years, previously known as the title D. While his last film, Based on a True Story (read review), penned by Olivier Assayas, closed out-of-competition at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival to lackluster reviews, his approximation of the infamous Dreyfus Affair, which became a lynchpin in the developing anti-Semitism in turn of the century France, promises to be something more impassioned from Polanski (as well as his potential swan song as the director is now in his mid-80s). Despite the rape scandal which continues to define him, Polanski has remained an acclaimed figure on the world cinema stage, winning a Best Director Academy Award in 2002 for The Pianist, an organization which would eventually ban him in the wake of the MeToo movement. Previously, Polanski competed in Cannes with 1976’s The Apartment, 2002’s The Pianist (which won him the Palme d’Or) and 2013’s Venus in Fur. He has competed twice in Venice, with his 1962 debut Knife in the Water and 2011’s Carnage (in 1993, the festival bestowed upon him a Career Golden Lion). J’accuse is produced by Ilan Goldman for Legende Films, with co-producers Gaumont, France 2 Cinema and France 3 Cinema. A notable cast includes Academy Award Winner Jean Dujardin, Louis Garrel, Melvil Poupaud, Olivier Gourmet, Gregory Gadebois, Mathieu Amalric, and, of course, Polanski’s wife Emmanuelle Seigner. Polanski will resume working with Polish DP Pawel Edelman, who has lensed every Polanski title since The Pianist.

Gist: Written by Polanski and his The Ghost Writer scribe Robert Harris, J’accuse will address the Dreyfus affair, a scandalous debacle which reverberated throughout Europe from 1894 to 1906 from the perspective of Colonel Picquart (Dujardin) who discovers the evidence against Captain Alfred Dreyfus (Garrel) to be false. Picquart attempts to reestablish the reputation of Dreyfus before he’s eventually appointed as the war minister in 1906.

Release Date/Prediction: Production is scheduled to commence in November and end in March in and around Paris. While Polanski would likely be offered a Cannes competition slot, timing for J’accuse makes Venice a better bet as this is pegged for a  December release in France, which also has been a welcome platform for the director.

Los Angeles based Nicholas Bell is's Chief Film Critic and covers film festivals such as Sundance, Berlin, Cannes and TIFF. He is part of the critic groups on Rotten Tomatoes, The Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA), the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS) and GALECA. His top 3 for 2021: France (Bruno Dumont), Passing (Rebecca Hall) and Nightmare Alley (Guillermo Del Toro). He was a jury member at the 2019 Cleveland International Film Festival.

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