Roman Polanski's film about the Dreyfus Affair -- in which he was accused of drawing parallels between himself and the persecuted French Jewish army officer -- has won the critics' prize at the Venice film festival, making it a favourite to lift the top award on Saturday.
If the official jury were to make the same choice it would cause an outcry, with feminists already furious the veteran maker of "Rosemary's Baby" was allowed to compete at the festival.
Polanski, 86, has been shunned by Hollywood for decades after he was convicted of drugging and raping a 13-year-old girl.
He did not show up at the festival, leaving it to his wife, French actress Emmanuelle Seigner -- who also appears in "An Officer and a Spy" -- to defend him against the "persecution" she said he feels.
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