The 76th Venice film festival has been facing controversy over the inclusion of Roman Polanski, as well as director Nate Parker, with campaigners saying the festival is out of touch in the era of #MeToo, AFP reported on Wednesday, August 28th. Both Polanski and Parker have been accused of sex crimes.
The world's oldest film festival is already embroiled in controversy over the lack of women up for its top prize, with two female directors out of 21 in the running this year, compared to one in 2018.
Director Alberto Barbera has defended his decision to include Polanski, calling him "one of the last masters still active in European cinema", at an opening press conference for the festival dominated by the issue.
He added that he never had doubts about including the Polanski film, and that he firmly believes that it would be fair to distinguish between the art and the controversial man who produced it.
Argentine filmmaker Lucrecia Martel, president of the judging panel for this year's Golden Lion award, has expressed that the decision has made her "uncomfortable", adding that she would refrain from attending the celebration for his film, but added the work deserved a chance to be seen and raises an important debate.
Regardless of the controversies surrounding the star-studded Venice film festival, which began early Wednesday, the event has hosted a number of Hollywood heavyweights in a stellar line-up, including Johnny Depp, Kristen Stewart, Meryl Streep and Scarlett Johansson.
The festival opens as the accusations that sparked America's #MeToo movement are back in the spotlight. Harvey Weinstein, once one of the most powerful men in Hollywood, pleaded not guilty to two new charges of sexual assault Monday, as a judge postponed his trial to 2020.