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The Pianist was co-written with British writer and dramatist Ronald Harwood, whose screenplay for his international success Taking Sides has recently been filmed by Oscar-winner Istvan Szabo. In 1985, Ronald Harwood was a visiting professor at Balliol College, Oxford and served from 1990-1993 as the president of the English PEN and from 1993-1997 as the president of the international PEN. In 1996, he became a Chevalier of the National Order for Art and Literature and received the Stefan Mitrov Ljubisa Prize this year for his services to European literature. In 1999, he received the distinction of "Commander of the British Empire". His oeuvre covers novels as well as plays and works for cinema and television.
Polanski says, "I greatly admire him as a writer and dramatist of plays such as The Dresser (adapted for the screen with Tom Courtenay and Albert Finney). He has written extensively about the period. Taking Sides is about Furtwängler, the conductor accused of collaboration with the Nazis." For his part, Harwood acknowledges the contribution of Polanski. "His experiences drove the screenplay. They are what ensures that the film is rooted in realism and authenticity."