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Last Updated:  Tuesday, 25 March, 2003, 15:51 GMT
Polanski 'touched' by Oscar win
Roman Polanski
Polanski's film has won global acclaim
Film-maker Roman Polanski has said he was "deeply touched" to be chosen to win the best director Oscar for his Holocaust movie The Pianist.

He said the honour, given at Sunday's Academy Awards in Hollywood, was all the more moving because the film drew on his own life during World War II.

"I am deeply touched to have received the Oscar for best director for a film which recounts events which are so close to my personal experience," he said.

I thank the members of the academy with all my heart for this magnificent reward
Roman Polanski

Polanski, a survivor of the World War II Krakow ghetto in Poland, added that his experiences had helped him "understand that art can transcend pain".

"I thank the members of the academy with all my heart for this magnificent reward," he added.

Polanski fled the US for France in 1978 to escape sentencing for having sex with a 13-year-old girl.

He faces arrest if he sets foot in the US again and could not attend the Oscar ceremony on Sunday.

Adrien Brody in The Pianist
Adrien Brody won the best actor Oscar for his performance

While the academy has often welcomed controversy, it had been thought Polanski's situation was too sensitive for them to allow him victory.

His statement did not mention his legal troubles or raise the prospect of working in Hollywood again.

The Pianist is based on the memoirs of Wladyslaw Szpilman, a Polish Jewish musician who survived Nazi-occupied Warsaw, but it also draws heavily on Polanski's experiences.

The 69-year-old director was born in France to Jewish parents but returned to Poland before World War II.

His mother died in a concentration camp.

The Pianist, which won the Palme d'Or at this year's Cannes Film Festival, also earned its star - Adrien Brody - an Oscar for best actor.

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