Trigger Warning: This article discusses sensitive topics.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the campaigners chanted, “No spotlight for rapist directors!” and “A rapist is a product of patriarchy,” as the filmmaker arrived on the red carpet. Nearly twenty activists participated in the protest against what they describe as the organization’s complicity in sexual violence.
The group formed a line, removed their shirts, and shouted their messages. Police swiftly escorted them off the premises.
One of the event’s organizers, Martha, a Venetian social trans-feminist collective, explained its rationale:
“We decided to protest the decision of the film festival to invite not one but three directors that have, all together, 17 sexual assault allegations against them. We are talking about powerful and influential white men, [whom] the justice system tends to treat with indulgence. What we really want is to send a message that inviting these men to the festival sends a message that normalizes and emphasizes rape culture and makes victims invisible.”
A day earlier, French activists displayed banners prominently at the Lido calling out the festival for glorifying Allen, whose daughter Dylan Farrow accused him of molesting her as a child, and Roman Polanski, who pled guilty to unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor. Allen married Dylan’s sister, Soon-Yi Previn, in 1997. He is also the father of investigative journalist and human rights lawyer Ronan Farrow, whose exposé of film producer Harvey Weinstein won a Pulitzer Prize. Polanski’s The Palace is up for the esteemed Golden Lion Award at the festival, whereas Allen’s film isn’t competing.
The 80th Venice Film Festival has faced significant public relations challenges due to its laissez-faire stance on gender-based violence. Authorities detained Franco-Spanish actor Gabriel Guevara in Venice on Saturday because of an outstanding warrant for an alleged sexual assault. After his arrest, organizers withdrew his Best Young Actor award.
Allen, Polanski, and Guevara all share a connection: they are present under the banner of the French film industry. It’s striking that France has sent three ambassadors to Italy to remind the world why it is considered one the most dangerous places for women to exist in Europe.