The Venice Film Festival was expected to schedule two films by controversial directors this year, Roman Polanski’s “The Palace” and Woody Allen’s “Coup de Chance”, already scheduled for the event from August 30 to September 9. Polanski has admitted to and been accused of sexual abuse throughout his career and forgiven by his victim Samantha Greiner in the years since he was arrested and accused of raping her when she was 13 in 1977. Allen denied abusing Dylan Farrow in 1992 and has not been charged with a felony.
In a interview with Variety discussing this year’s Venice lineup, festival director Alberto Barbera reaffirmed his commitment to showcasing their new films, saying he doesn’t “see where the problem is”.
“Luc Besson was recently completely cleared of any wrongdoing,” Barbera said when asked about the potential uproar over including films by those directors, as was Besson, who was recently cleared of long-standing rape allegations stemming from allegations in 2018.
“Woody Allen came under legal scrutiny twice in the late 1990s and was acquitted. With them I don’t see where the problem lies”, continued Barbera. “In Polanski’s case, it is paradoxical. It’s been 60 years. Polanski admitted responsibility for him. He asked to be forgiven. He was forgiven by the victim. The victim asked for the matter to be closed. I think that continuing to beat Polanski means looking for a scapegoat for other situations that deserve more attention. Apart from this, a cultural debate with less rigid positions is underway on Polanski. I’m on the side of those who say that we need to distinguish between the responsibilities of the individual and those of the artist».
Barbera added: “Besides, I am a festival director, not a judge. I judge the artistic qualities of films. And from this point of view, I don’t see why I shouldn’t invite Polanski’s film to Venice”.
Both “The Palace” and “Coup de Chance” are screened out of competition this year in Venice. Polanski currently lives past extradition in France while Allen maintains his residence in New York, though Barbera said he only expects one of them to attend or greet the press at this year’s Lido: “I’m not sure if (Roman Polanski) will be handling the press, but Woody Allen will definitely come to the movie premiere.”
“Coup de Chance” is a French-language thriller starring Valerie Lemercier, Niels Schneider, Lou de Laage and Melvil Poupaud. Polanski’s dark comedy “The Palace,” set in 1999 Switzerland, stars Oliver Masucci, Fanny Ardant, John Cleese and Mickey Rourke. Both films have already found distribution houses throughout Europe.