“Island of rapists,” “No Golden Lion for predators,” “Sexist cinema/ feminist response” read the banners, posted on the Lido near the Venice Film Festival on Sunday, an anonymous protest against the inclusion by the 80th Biennale of films from controversial directors Roman Polanski and Woody Allen. Polanski’s new film, The Palace, premiered in Venice last night. Allen’s French-language Coup de Chance will have its world premiere here on Monday.
The series of banners written in Italian, French and English which, among other things, accuse the Venice Film Festival of hosting “rapists,” appeared Sunday morning on the Lido, at the Giardini della Biennale and at the Santa Maria Elisabetta traffic circle, one of the festival’s main thoroughfares. They were made with the same technique: Individual letters, one sheet of paper per letter, glued to a wall or to the ground, in large black block type. It is not yet clear who made them.
Police, contacted by THR Roma, said they were investigating to try and find out who was behind the protest. They did not disclose if they were pursuing specific charges against the protesters.
The protest slogans make reference to Polanski (“Polanski Wanted”) and Woody Allen —”Coupe de Chance: la justice ne fait pas son travail” (Coup de Chance: justice does not do its job).
One accuses the festival of being “80 years behind,” a reference to the Biennale’s 80th anniversary this year. Another asks the question: “Will the Golden Lion go to a rapist?” referring to Polanski’s The Palace, which is up for the festival’s top prize (Allen’s Coup de Chance is running out of competition in Venice).
Judging by the critical response to Polanski’s latest, there is little chance of the 90-year-old filmmaker, winning much on the Lido. The Hollywood Reporter‘s critic lambasted The Palace, calling the movie “The worst thing [Polanski has] ever made.” Audience response was also tepid, with only polite applause greeting the gala premiere Saturday night.
Polanski, who admitted to the statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl in 1977 and is still a fugitive from U.S. justice, did not attend Venice. Allen, however, is in town and is expected to attend the press conference for Coup de Chance, and the film’s gala premiere, on Monday. The director of Manhattan, Annie Hall and Blue Jasmine was accused by his adoptive daughter Dylan Farrow of sexually molesting her in 1992 when she was 7 years old, accusations he has always denied.