Woody Allen film given big stage at Deauville festival

Agence France-Presse . Deauville | Published: 00:00, Sep 06,2019


Woody Allen

Woody Allen’s new romantic comedy “A Rainy Day in New York” will open the American Film Festival in the French resort of Deauville on Friday, giving the film, whose release was cancelled in the US, a major European stage.

Amazon, which had agreed to distribute the film in the United States, dropped it over allegations that the Oscar-winning director abused his daughter.

But Bruno Barde, director of the Deauville festival, which was launched in 1975 as a celebration of American cinema, has praised the feature as a “very energetic, very funny film”.

“Woody Allen is in top form. It’s a romantic cross-over that could have been written by (18th-century French playwright Pierre de) Marivaux,” Barde said in August of the rom-com, which stars Timothee Chalamet, Elle Fanning, Selena Gomez and Jude Law.

Allen has been accused of molesting Dylan Farrow, his adopted daughter, when she was seven years old in the early 1990s. 

He was cleared of the charges, first levelled by his then partner Mia Farrow, after two separate investigations, and has steadfastly denied the claim. But Dylan, now an adult, maintains that she was abused. Her brother Ronan Farrow revived the allegations on the day the Cannes film festival opened in 2016 with Allen’s “Cafe Society”.

In February, Allen filed a $68 million (60 million euro) lawsuit against Amazon for breach of contract, accusing it of acting on a “baseless” accusation.

The film, which was released in July in Poland, is due to hit French cinemas on September 18. It has also secured distribution in Italy, Spain and several other countries.

US feminist groups reacted indignantly to its inclusion in the 45th edition of the Deauville festival, where it is screening out of competition.

Deauville is also presenting a new film from director Nate Parker, whose 2016 debut was derailed after it emerged that he had been accused of raping a fellow student while at university.

Parker was acquitted but the invitations extended to him by the Venice Film Festival last month, and now the Deauville festival, have nonetheless riled #MeToo campaigners.

“First Woody Allen and now Nate Parker, just the summer of the attackers, do not agree,” the founder of the Women and Hollywood lobby group, Melissa Silverstein, tweeted.

The president of the Deauville jury, French screen legend Catherine Deneuve, defended Allen’s place in the line-up.

In an interview with AFP late last month she accused feminists of being “blinkered”, arguing: “You have to differentiate the film-maker from the person.”

Deneuve had already caused a ruckus in 2018 by signing an open letter criticising the #MeToo movement and defending the right of women “to be hit on”.

The 75-year-old star later apologised to sexual assault victims for any offence caused.

Barde, the festival director, described the 45th edition of the American cinema showcase as a “feminine festival”, with 11 of the 36 films screened coming from women directors.

The A-listers will include Johnny Depp; Geena Davis, who has produced a documentary on gender inequality in the film industry; and Kristin Stewart, who plays Jean Seberg in a film about the star of Jean-Luc Godard’s New Wave classic “Breathless”. 

The prize winners will be announced on September 15.

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