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Thursday, February 13, 2014

On Having a Woody Allen Film Fest in Feb 2014

Posted by on Thu, Feb 13, 2014 at 9:16 AM

WOODY ALLEN & MIA FARROW Pre-breakup brilliance in Broadway Danny Rose
  • WOODY ALLEN & MIA FARROW Pre-breakup brilliance in Broadway Danny Rose

As anyone with an internet connection knows, the past few weeks have been a Woody-Allen-themed shitshow. At issue: Allen's daughter Dylan Farrow alleging that he sexually molested her in the early '90s, when she was 7. The accusation has drawn at least two generations of the Woody Allen–Mia Farrow clan into a grim public battle of "he said/she said." Support for each side is readily available, while verifiable facts remain scarce, leaving us all to rely on the evidence of our emotions.

As a fan of Woody Allen and a hater of the culture that shames survivors of sexual abuse for telling their stories, I can't help but notice there's been a natural bias toward Allen in the way this has played out. For example, Dylan Farrow's testimony ran as an open letter on the New York Times blog, while Woody Allen's rebuttal and proclamation of innocence ran as an official editorial in the printed New York Times. So allow me to focus on the words of Dylan Farrow: "When I was seven years old, Woody Allen took me by the hand and led me into a dim, closet-like attic on the second floor of our house. He told me to lay on my stomach and play with my brother's electric train set. Then he sexually assaulted me."

The accusations aren't new. They'd first been made more than 20 years earlier, in a 1992 Vanity Fair article written by Maureen Orth (who'd devoted the majority of her feature to dissecting Allen's interactions with another of Farrow's daughters, 19-year-old Soon-Yi Previn, with whom the 56-year-old Allen was romantically involved, and has been married to since 1997). According to one doctor who investigated the Dylan Farrow matter at the time, the allegation wasn't true, and a Connecticut state attorney who believed at the time that there was enough probable cause to arrest Woody Allen decided not to. The one concrete, seemingly mitigating fact in all of this is that, after a thorough investigation, both Mia Farrow and Connecticut authorities declined to pursue charges against Allen in connection with the alleged assault.

Still, there in Dylan Farrow's open letter was the testimony of the one person willing and able to call Woody Allen a child molester without the buffer of "alleged." Responses to her letter ranged from the expected (Allen's attorney and publicist offered responses maintaining their client's innocence, as did Allen himself in his NYT editorial) to the shocking (Dylan Farrow's brother Moses, now a 36-year-old family therapist, publicly dismissed his sister's claims of abuse as fantasies planted by their scorned-and-vengeful mother).

And throughout all of this, in a little corner of the Northwest, programmers at Seattle's great nonprofit cinema the Grand Illusion were gearing up for a three-week festival showcasing Woody Allen's films of the 1980s. "Repertory titles such as these are programmed months in advance due to 35 mm print availability issues," reads the disclaimer on the Grand Illusion website. "This series is not a comment on recent events."

Not an intentional comment, for sure, but there's no divorcing the six-film Woody Allen in the '80s festival from the stink brought forth by Dylan Farrow's testimony, nor should there be. Readers made queasy by discussions of the moral relativity of artists' deeds and artists' work should probably stop reading now. (Or at least stop reading this. Instead, google "Bill Cosby alleged sexual assaults" for a bracing example of purportedly hating the sin while letting the alleged sinner slide.)...

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