Alberto Barbera returns to the controversy following the selection of Roman Polanski, Woody Allen and Luc Besson in and out of competition.
Update of July 27, 2027 with a translation of the words of the director of the Venice festival.
News of July 26, 2023: This Tuesday, the Venice Film Festival unveiled its official selection. From Sofia Coppola to David Fincher, via Quentin Dupieux and Bradley Cooper, fine names have been announced despite the Hollywood strike which disrupted the festival programme. Nevertheless, a controversy swelled in the evening, with the announcement of the new films of Roman Polansky, Woody Allen And Luc Bessonamong the most controversial personalities in cinema.
The festival’s artistic director Alberto Barbera confirmed to journalists present at the press conference that Roman Polanski, who turns 90 in August, will not be traveling to Venice. Deadline specifies that the cast of The Palace, selected out of competition, should still walk the red carpet. Among the actors starring in this film produced by the Italian group Rai: John Cleese, Fanny Ardant and Mickey Rourke.
On the other hand, Woody Allen should be there to present Stroke of luck, worn by Lou de Laâge, Valérie Lemercier and Niels Schneider and shot in France via Metropolitan FilmExport. As for The Palace, this film will not be in the running for the Golden Lion and the other prizes awarded by Damien Chazelle’s jury at the end of the festival. For the moment, no other information concerning the arrival of Luc Besson, selected in official competition for his next film. Dogmanled by Caleb Landry Jones and backed by EuropaCorp and Apollo Films.
César 2020: the Polanski malaise
As a reminder, Roman Polanski has been accused of rape – now prescribed because mostly committed in the 70s – by several women (including Samantha Gailey, Charlotte Lewis, and Renate Langer). The director is still under an American arrest warrant for having avoided prosecution in 1978. Woody Allen is accused of sexual abuse by Dylan Farrow, the daughter of his ex-girlfriend Mia Farrow. The director has never been prosecuted but no longer turns in the United States. Finally, Luc Besson is also accused of rape by actress Sand Van Roy. He benefited from a judicial dismissal, confirmed in May 2022 by the Paris Court of Appeal, but it immediately seized the European Court of Human Rights.
In an interview with varietyAlberto Barbera explained that with Luc Besson and Woody Allen, “I do not see where the problem is”. “In the case of Polanski, it is paradoxical. It’s been 60 years, he admitted his responsibility, and the victim forgave him (…) I think that staying fixated on Polanski amounts to finding a scapegoat and ignoring other situations that deserve more attention. Also, there is a cultural debate around Polanski. I am on the side of those who distinguish the responsibilities of an individual, and the artist”he developed.
“I’m a festival director, not a judge. All I judge is the quality of the films. And from that perspective, I don’t see why I shouldn’t invite Polanski to Venice”he concluded.
With the proliferation of directors accused of sexual assault, and the risk of controversy growing with it, some film festivals and events have introduced new measures. In France in particular, the Césars have decided to “not to highlight people who would be implicated by justice for acts of violence”. This is not yet the case for the Venice festival. The Oscars also excluded Polanski, who is no longer a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Find the official selection of the Venice Film Festival just here.