Cannes Director: Woody Allen film not considered due to controversy

“The controversy would prevail against his film and against the other films,” Thierry Fremaux said of the decision not to program Allen’s latest film.

The newly announced line-up for the Cannes Film Festival is full of hotly anticipated films from some of the biggest directors on the planet – but it’s not without controversy. The festival made headlines for its opening night selection of Jeanne du Barry, the new Maïwenn film starring Johnny Depp XV. He plays Louis as the French ruler. Depp’s first major role since the high-profile defamation lawsuit against Amber Heard was always going to be controversial, but the film became more of a lightning rod after a French journalist sued the director for personal injury.

Cannes director Thierry Fremaux defended his decision to screen the film all week, explaining that he saw the selection as fair game because neither Depp nor Maïwenn had been convicted of any crime.

“I don’t see Maïwenn’s film as a controversial choice at all,” Fremaux said in an interview. “Because if Johnny Depp had been banned from working, it would have been different, but that’s not the case.”

But while Fremaux may be more tolerant of controversial artists than some American audiences would like, he still has his limits. In a new interview with the French newspaper Le Figaro, Fremaux was asked why new films by Roman Polanski and Woody Allen were not selected for the festival. Both filmmakers continued to work successfully in Europe, despite personal scandals dwindling opportunities in America. (Polanski is barred from entering the United States because of a 1977 arrest for raping a 13-year-old girl, while Allen has largely become a Hollywood pariah amid renewed interest in allegations that he molested his stepdaughter, Dylan Farrow, in 1992.)

Fremaux explained that while Polanski’s upcoming film “The Palace” wasn’t screened for programmers, he did get a chance to see Allen’s new dark comedy, set in France, Coup de Chance. But he said the Allen controversy would definitely overshadow the festival if the film was selected, so he never seriously considered including it in the film lineup.

“The Polanski, we haven’t seen it. Woody Allen is a little special, I saw it without seeing it,” Fremaux said in the interview, as translated by IndieWire, hinting that he was able to see the film outside of the festival’s pre-screening model. “The film was not nominated. We also know that if his film is shown in Cannes, the controversy would prevail against his film and against the other films as well.”

Allen shot Coup de Chance in Paris with actors Melvil Poupaud and Valérie Lemercier and cinematographer Vittorio Storaro. Allen’s last film to play in Cannes was the 2016 opening night ‘Café Society’.

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