Not Everyone Was Happy at Woody Allen Premiere

Protesters scuffled with cops, slammed organizers for featuring directors accused of sexual abuse
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 5, 2023 9:20 AM CDT

There was chaos on the red carpet at the 80th Venice International Film Festival on Monday as protesters scuffled with police while shouting "Abusers!" and "No rape culture!" The Italian film festival is premiering new films by three directors accused of sexual misconduct: Woody Allen, Roman Polanski, and Luc Besson. It was at the premiere of Allen's 50th feature and first French-language film, Coup de Chance, that the scuffles broke out, per the BBC and CNN. More:

  • The disturbance: About 20 people "marched past the cinema's entrance just as Allen was walking down the red carpet" and "shouted slogans including 'No rape culture!' and 'We are speaking for those without a voice against the director rapists,'" per the The Hollywood Reporter. Some removed their shirts, per Variety, while some scuffled with police, per the BBC.
  • The protesters: They were men and woman affiliated with various Italian organizations, including the feminist group Non Una Di Meno, per Screen Daily. They handed out pamphlets that decried the festival's embrace of Allen, Besson, and Polanski. "If violence is never considered serious enough or credible enough, and if those who perpetrate it continue never to be held responsible, things can never change," they read in part.
  • The accusations: Allen's adopted daughter Dylan Farrow claims he molested her in 1992 when she was 7, though a prosecutor declined to bring charges. Polanski pleaded guilty to the statutory rape of a 13-year-old in the US in 1977 but fled the country before his sentencing. Besson was cleared of rape by a French court in June.

  • Allen speaks: At the premiere, the 87-year-old director told Variety that he supported the #MeToo movement, but he said it could become "too extreme in trying to make it into an issue when, in fact, most people would not regard it as any kind of offensive situation." He added "major investigative bodies ... concluded there was no merit" to Farrow's accusations.
  • Standing ovation: Allen received a standing ovation in the theater before the film had even been shown, per Variety. After the screening, Allen received "a three-minute standing ovation ... which would have gone on longer had the filmmaker not started to exit," the outlet reports. It adds "the filmmaker looked visibly moved during the reaction and at one point took out a tissue."
  • Reviews: Variety critic Owen Gleiberman says Coup de Chance is Allen's best movie since Blue Jasmine, while Caspar Salmon writes for the Daily Beast that the film is "an exhausting and lazy retread of all his tried, true, and tired ideas" and "seems written by ChatGPT." The movie follows a Parisian woman who thinks she's happy in her marriage until she runs into a former high school classmate and is swept into an affair.

  • Other screenings: Polanski's new film, The Palace, was screened over the weekend, though he wasn't in attendance. Besson attended Thursday's screening of his 21st feature, Dogman, which received a six-minute standing ovation, per THR. It adds Besson was seen "wiping away tears." There was no sign of a protest.
  • In defense: Venice Film Festival director Alberto Barbera previously defended the decision to include directors like Allen and Polanski in this year's festival. "I am on the side of those who say you have to distinguish between the responsibilities of the individual and that of the artist," he told Variety. "I am a festival director, not a judge. I judge the artistic qualities of films."
(More Venice Film Festival stories.)

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