Woody Allen brushes off rape joke, sex abuse claims at Cannes

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Woody Allen brushes off rape joke, sex abuse claims at Cannes

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

The 80-year-old director, whose film “Cafe Society” had its premiere on Wednesday, was seated in the front row when the MC, French actor 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 abuse 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 Allen seemed unperturbed by the gag and said “It would take a lot to offend me.”

“I am completely in favour of comedians making any jokes they want,” Allen told Variety magazine.

“I’m a comic myself and I feel they should be free to make whatever jokes they want.”

Polanski’s French wife Emmanuelle Seigner branded Lafitte “pathetic” and said it was a “vulgar, mediocre” opening ceremony.

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 Dylan Farrow case, which dates back to the early 1990s.

– A bad review –

“There will be press conferences and a red-carpet walk by my father and his wife (my sister),” he said, referring to Soon-Yi, the adopted daughter of Allen’s former partner Mia Farrow.

“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.”

Allen said he had not read the piece which he likened to a bad review.

“I never read anything,” Allen was cited as saying by Variety. “I never read what you say about me or the reviews of my film.” 

Allen’s bizarre personal life came under scrutiny when he entered into a relationship with Soon-Yi — the adopted daughter of Mia Farrow and her former husband Andre Previn — when she was only 21.

They married in 1997.

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

Ronan said his mother Mia Farrow decided not to press charges in the 1990s due to Dylan’s “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.

Allen on Thursday said he had “said everything I had to say about that whole issue” in that column.

“I never think about it. I work. I said I was never going to comment on it again.”

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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