Rape joke, sex abuse claims haunt Woody Allen at Cannes

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Rape joke, sex abuse claims haunt Woody Allen at Cannes

Cannes (France) (AFP) – Allegations that Woody Allen sexually abused his daughter returned to haunt him in Cannes as he was being feted at the film festival’s opening gala.

The 80-year-old director was seated in the front row on Wednesday evening when MC Laurent Lafitte made a rape joke that drew gasps from the audience.

“It is a pleasure to see you in France, because you have shot many films in Europe in recent years, and yet in the United States you haven’t even been convicted for rape.”

Opinions were divided on whether the comment was directed at Allen — who was never charged with the historic accusations against him — or director Roman Polanski who has been living in Europe to escape charges he raped a 13-year-old in the United States.

But the joke was yet another reminder of the doubts hanging over Allen, after his estranged son Ronan Farrow published a column in the Hollywood Reporter Wednesday slamming the media for failing to ask hard questions about the case, which dates back to the early 1990s.

“There will be press conferences and a red-carpet walk by my father and his wife (my sister). He’ll have his stars at his side — Kristen Stewart, Blake Lively, Steve Carell, Jesse Eisenberg.

“They can trust that the press won’t ask them the tough questions. It’s not the time, it’s not the place, it’s just not done.”

Despite one or two attempts by journalists to question his portrayal of romance between a younger woman and a much older man — with Allen claiming at one point to have hearing problems — the allegations were not brought up.

Allen entered into a relationship with Soon-Yi Previn, the adopted daughter of his former partner Mia Farrow, when Previn was only 21, and they married in 1997.

The long-simmering scandal took on a new scale in 2014 when Allen’s daughter Dylan Farrow, 30, published an open letter in the New York Times outlining her father’s abuse.

She and Ronan’s mother Mia Farrow decided not to press charges in the 1990s due to her “fragility” at the time.

Allen struck back with his own open letter, calling the accusations “ludicrous” and repeated his charge that Mia had “coached” his daughter during their acrimonious split.

He said the piece would be his “final word on the matter”.

US director Woody Allen and his wife Soon-Yi Previn arrive for the screening of his new film “Cafe Society” during the opening ceremony of the 69th Cannes Film Festival on May 11, 2016
Copyright AFP Alberto Pizzoli

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