The veteran moviemaker accepted the event's tribute award at the ceremony in Paris, where his political thriller, starring Pierce Brosnan, scooped the night's top film prize.
The Ghost Writer shared the honour with Xavier Beauvois' drama Of Gods and Men, while Polanski also received an award for direction and another for screenwriting, jointly with co-writer Robert Harris.
The Rosemary's Baby director was shooting the movie when he was arrested in Zurich, Switzerland in September 2009 over a sex charge dating back to the 1970s. He was released in July (10) after Swiss officials refused to extradite him to the U.S. and he returned to his adopted homeland of France.
Other big winners at the ceremony included Kristin Scott Thomas, who took home a best actress honour for her role in Sarah's Key, and Of Gods and Men star Michael Lonsdale, who was named best actor, according to Variety.