Roman Polanski arrives at Zurich film festival

By JOHN HEILPRIN | September 27, 2011 | 4:35 PM EDT

Polish born film director Roman Polanski writes autographs as he arrives to pick up the award for his life work at the Film Festival in Zurich, Swzitzerland, Tuesday, Sept.27, 2011. The award was intended to be given two years ago to Polanski when he was arrested and prisoned for 70 days. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)

GENEVA (AP) — Roman Polanski returned to the Zurich Film Festival on Tuesday to accept the lifetime achievement award he was unable to pick up two years ago after being arrested for a decades-old sex-crime case.

The Polish-French director of "Rosemary's Baby" was detained on arrival at Zurich airport in 2009 and subsequently spent months in prison and later house arrest before avoiding extradition to the United States on charges of having sex with a 13-year-old girl in 1977.

Actors and industry veterans told The Associated Press that Polanski is to present a documentary detailing his side of the story at the festival.

British actress Alice Eve described the documentary as a series of interviews with the Oscar winning director.

Now able to travel unhindered to Switzerland, Polanski, 78, arrived at the festival hall on Tuesday to a standing ovation. He stood basking in the applause before taking his seat at a tribute ceremony.

Polanski then strode to the stage amid nearly a minute's sustained applause.

"What I can say. Better late than never," he said, breaking into laughter. "It's a very moving moment for me."

Over 45,000 visitors are expected to attend the seventh installment of the festival in Switzerland's biggest city that includes ten world premieres and runs through Oct. 2.