Mars Films chief Stéphane Célérier, the long-time distributor of Woody Allen’s work in France, has publicly denounced the media’s treatment of the director over allegations he molested his adopted daughter.
In a bold move, Célérier, who rarely speaks to the press, voiced his shock at the coverage of Allen by the world’s media and on the social networks, in an editorial in French weekly news magazine Le Point.
He is one of the first high-profile industry players connected to Allen to speak out in the director’s defence.
“I have been shocked by the wave of hate provoked by the Woody Allen affair, particularly in the United States and on the social networks, and by the lack of rigor by certain media outlets and the pack which condemns without looking into the full facts,” wrote the distributor and producer.
’A settling of family accounts’
His comments come amid the media storm around the re-emergence of allegations late last year by Allen’s adopted daughter Dylan Farrow that he molested her when she was a child.
Highlighting the fact that Allen was cleared of the 25-year-old charges by Connecticut police in 1993, Célérier said it was time “to examine the facts with attention.”
“That is the approach I have decided to take. Simply to get to the bottom of the truth, to understand whether I’ve been working closely with a paedophile all these years,” wrote the distributor who has handled nearly all of Allen’s films in France.
Describing in detail the events surrounding the case, Célérier said the allegations levelled at Allen had been “a settling of family accounts”.
He noted the acrimonious relationship between Dylan’s mother and Allen’s former partner Mia Farrow, prompted by the director’s relationship with her adopted daughter Soon-Yi Previn at the time of the accusations.
He also highlighted testimony since from Dylan’s older brother Moses that their mother had fostered a climate of hatred against the director when the relationship came to light.
“This affair makes me think of the case of the Witches of Salem which Arthur Miller used so expertly in his play [The Crucible] as an allegory for McCarthyism,” wrote Célérier.
The distributor said that after looking closely at the facts he had concluded that Allen was innocent of the charges that have re-emerged in the media. “He has always in my eyes been a man of incredible intelligence as well as discreet and courteous. But his talent and his effervescent creativity don’t make a saint. The admiration I have for the man and the cineaste is real but have not influenced the steps I have taken to ask questions.”
“It seems clear to me that Woody Allen should not be classified in the same category as the sexual predators recently denounced by Hollywood and end his days as a pariah whose work should be burned,” he wrote.
“But it seems complicated today, impossible even, to stand-up for Woody Allen’s innocence without prompting violent reactions and accusations that I am sacrificing the rights of women for economic gain.”
The allegations surrounding Allen have divided the film industry.
A number of the director’s past collaborators have publicly dissociated themselves from him in recent months. Actor Colin Firth, who starred in Magic In The Moonlight, put out a statement in The Guardian newspaper in January saying he would not work with the filmmaker again while French actress Marion Cotillard, who appeared in Midnight In Paris, recently told journalists in Paris she would “dig more” before agreeing to collaborate with him a second time.
Charlotte Rampling, however, said in an interview with Screen International this week that working with Allen on his 1980 film Stardust Memories had been an entirely positive experience and that there had been “wonderful, platonic, playfulness” between them throughout the production.