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Venice fest boss baffled by hostility to Woody Allen

29 August 2023

Venice (AFP) -

The head of the Venice Film Festival, which starts Wednesday, told AFP it was 'absolutely incomprehensible' why US opinion had turned so strongly against director Woody Allen.

The festival has been criticised for its inclusion of several directors with past sexual assault allegations in this year's line-up, including Allen, Roman Polanski and Luc Besson.

But its boss, Alberto Barbera, said the controversy around Allen, who is set to present his 50th film 'Coup de Chance' at the festival on Monday, was particularly baffling to him.

'He has been completely absolved. Twenty-five years have passed and, for me, the hostility towards him, especially in the United States, is absolutely incomprehensible,' Barbera told AFP on Tuesday.

Allen, 87, was investigated for an alleged assault on his adopted daughter in the early 1990s but no charges were brought by police.

He accuses his ex-partner Mia Farrow, who faces her own allegations of mistreating her children, of orchestrating the accusations.

In the #MeToo era, many have refused to accept the initial investigation findings and Allen has been effectively blackballed by Hollywood.

Barbera added that the case of Polanski, who remains a fugitive from the United States over a conviction for raping a minor in the 1970s, was 'more complex'.

'Not only has he been found guilty, but he has recognised his guilt and asked for forgiveness. The victim has forgiven him and asked for forgiveness on this affair,' he said.

Polanski's new film 'The Palace' is screening at the festival, though the 90-year-old is not expected to attend.

'We must make a distinction between the man and the artist,' Barbera said.

'The history of art is full of artists who were criminals, and we nonetheless continue to admire their work.'

France's Besson, who presents 'Dogman' in competition this week, had rape allegations against him dropped in June.

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