Roman Polanski Returns to Cannes – With a Prada Ad

Cannes had promised a new film from controversial director Roman Polanski, but they didn't say it would be a fashion ad

Roman Polanski came to Cannes on Monday to show an old film, and also to debut a new one.

But the new Polanski film is an oddity in the controversial director's career: It's an ad for Prada, though Polanski described it as "an anti-ad" afterwards.

Getty ImagesThe short, which screened before a restored version of Polanski's 1979 film "Tess," features Helena Bonham Carter as a Prada-wearing patient and Ben Kingsley as a psychiatrist who finds himself distracted by the beauty of the purple fur coat his patient has hung on a rack.

"Prada Suits Everyone," reads the caption as Kingsley dons the coat and strokes his face with its fur collar.

Italian Vogue ran a pirated image from the short, and many viewers went to Twitter to share their amazement that the "Rosemary's Baby" director had made a fashion ad – which festival chief Thierry Fremaux had teased on Sunday, when he mentioned that Polanski would be debuting a new film.

Polanski also had a presence earlier in the festival, when Cannes screened the documentary "Roman Polanski: A Film Memoir," which is made up of filmed interviews with the director.

That film, wrote Sharon Waxman at TheWrap, will likely prove to be as divisive as Polanski himself:

"Like everything else in Polanski’s life, reactions to this new documentary will be bifurcated: the French will love him all the more as a victimized genius. Americans will think he’s concocted a tendentious piece of drivel to excuse his past. 

"Neither are right. And both are."

Also read: Cannes 2012: Roman Polanski Tells His Story – How Do You Like Me Now?

At the screening of "Tess," Polanski escorted that film's star, Nastassja Kinski, down the red carpet.

(Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)