By Maureen Lee Lenker
September 30, 2018 at 01:25 PM EDT

Fugitive filmmaker Roman Polanksi is moving forward on a film about the Dreyfus Affair, the 19th-century scandal centering on a French-Jewish soldier falsely accused of spying for the Germans.

French producers Legende Films confirmed to the Hollywood Reporter that Polanski, who fled the United States in 1978 after pleading guilty to raping a 13-year-old girl, plans to start shooting the project, titled J’Accuse, in Paris later this year. A representative for Polanski confirmed to EW that he is shooting a new movie but declined to provide details.

Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

Per THR, the film is to star Jean Dujardin (The Artist) as the counter-espionage officer seeking to clear the name of Captain Alfred Dreyfus, whose trial for treason captured the hearts and minds of Parisians in 1890s, particularly drawing attention from Emile Zola (whose famous editorial gives the film its title). The script is by British writer Robert Harris.

Though Polanski has been working on the project for several years, its timing and subject matter are sure to stoke controversy given the director’s fugitive status and the rise of the #MeToo movement. Last year, Polanski dismissed the movement as “mass hysteria” and “complete hypocrisy.” He was also expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

With reporting by Nick Romano.