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Was Woody Allen Responsible of Sexual Abuse? ‘Allen v. Farrow’ Filmmakers Dissect Episode 1 (EXCLUSIVE)


In “Allen v. Farrow,” the four-part docuseries that premiered on HBO Sunday evening, documentarians Kirby Dick, Amy Ziering and Amy Herdy have tackled an particularly daunting and divisive topic, even for them. The filmmakers behind the documentaries “The Hunting Ground,” “The Invisible War” and “On the Record,” have investigated Dylan Farrow’s 1992 allegations that her father, Woody Allen, sexually abused her when she was 7 years outdated.

Dylan Farrow’s harrowing accusations performed out in court docket in the course of the lead-up to the vicious custody battle between Allen and his ex-partner Mia Farrow — and day by day, they have been additionally splashed on the pages of the New York Publish. Concurrently, Allen’s then-newly revealed sexual relationship with Quickly-Yi Previn, Farrow’s older daughter, ensured the tabloid press was totally engaged, one thing Allen weaponized in opposition to Mia Farrow, whom he painted as a manipulative hysteric. In “Allen v. Farrow,” she talks on digicam for the primary time about what she went via.

Within the aftermath of the custody struggle, which Mia Farrow received (to say the least), the allegations in opposition to Allen have been typically willfully forgotten. His singular profession as a writer-director continued unabated, with a parade of A-list actors — from Cate Blanchett to Penelope Cruz — signing as much as star in his films, and infrequently being rewarded by the Academy for it. In 2014, Dylan Farrow reasserted her claims in an open letter revealed on Nicholas Kristof’s New York Instances weblog, calling out those that labored with him in private, direct phrases. However once more, folks continued to do enterprise with Allen— till the #MeToo motion of 2017, spurred partially by Ronan Farrow’s New Yorker investigation into Harvey Weinstein’s crimes, as soon as once more revived Dylan’s story (which hasn’t modified since she advised her mom what she says her father did to her practically 30 years in the past). “Wonder Wheel,” Allen’s 2017 providing, was the final of his movies to get a significant theatrical launch in america.

“Allen v. Farrow” goals to offer the complete image of what occurred between Dylan, Mia and Allen. Ziering, Dick and Herdy use never-before-seen residence films from Mia Farrow that she shot, together with of Dylan at age 7 saying what Allen allegedly did to her. There are additionally audio recordings the general public has by no means heard that Mia made throughout cellphone conversations with Allen because the custody battle loomed (he was taping her too). Along with Dylan, a number of different of Mia Farrow’s youngsters — Ronan Farrow, and Fletcher and Daisy Previn — additionally gave interviews to “Allen v. Farrow,” as did household mates and individuals who had labored on the investigation.

Allen, 85, who has at all times angrily denied any wrongdoing in opposition to Dylan, didn’t take part. His aspect is introduced via previous interviews; press conferences; the surprisingly intimate residence films by which he seems (typically uncomfortably hugging and kissing Dylan); and in snippets from his audiobook studying of his 2020 memoir, “Apropos of Nothing.” (A consultant for Allen didn’t reply to Selection’s request for remark, however on Sunday evening, Allen issued a press release via his sister and producer, Letty Aronson, calling “Allen v. Farrow” a “hatchet job riddled with falsehoods.”)

In an interview with Selection, co-directors Ziering and Dick, and Herdy, the docuseries’ investigative producer, delved into the primary episode of “Allen v. Farrow,” and previewed its subsequent episodes. (Spoilers abound, so be warned.)

“It’s a story we all think we knew,” Ziering mentioned. “But we didn’t.”

Table of Contents

Are you able to discuss concerning the origins of “Allen v. Farrow,” and the way you satisfied Dylan Farrow— after which the remainder of the Farrows — to take part?

Amy Ziering: Tasks discover us, we don’t precisely discover initiatives, per se. We have been casting a large web, speaking to ladies within the wake of #MeToo, and we thought we would do some sort of sequence and there could be a Hollywood portion. And Amy Herdy was like, “Maybe for the Hollywood portion, we should interview Dylan Farrow.” Amy managed to have Dylan agree. At that time, we weren’t making this challenge, however that’s initially how we fell upon the interview with Dylan.

Kirby and I, and Amy, have been like, “There’s so much more here that none of us knew about. And how is it that none of us knew about it?” And that piqued our curiosity, nevertheless it actually piqued Amy’s curiosity. And as Amy dug and dug and dug, she got here up discovering all this new materials, and bringing it to us.

How did you pivot to realizing you have been going to do a documentary about this particular factor?

Kirby Dick: Details about proof began coming, and this began making us understand there’s a lot of this story that hasn’t been advised. That mixed with the private story that Dylan had advised —  not solely what occurred when she was little, but in addition how she needed to dwell with having the tradition in some ways denying her story. We realized we had an epic story on our fingers.

At what level did you uncover the trove of archival issues that Mia Farrow had?

Amy Herdy: I first began having conversations with Dylan in February of 2018. That fall was once I was first launched to Mia. I spent numerous time rummaging via her home. She was very well mannered, and mentioned, “Feel free to look around. I’m not going to do an interview, ever!” She had bookshelves in every single place, not simply lined with books, but in addition with these residence films and photograph albums. Then she casually talked about that there could be some containers within the basement, so right down to the basement, I went. There have been only a few disparate court docket gadgets, and a few of these have been the audiocassettes.

There have been photocopies of images of Woody Allen with the youngsters as they have been rising up that had been entered as an exhibit within the custody trial. I believed that was fascinating, as a result of he had maintained that he had saved such a distance from them. There was the affidavit of when he adopted Dylan — that adoption went via in December of 1991. And there was his affidavit, which is a sworn assertion, testifying that he and Mia have been in a detailed, dedicated and persevering with relationship. A month later, these images have been discovered of Quickly-Yi — the bare images. In order that was a seismic disconnect.

Ziering: The old style cassettes, Amy managed to claw again from the jaws of dying, and referred to as us and mentioned, “Oh, my God! This is Woody and Mia talking contemporaneous as these events were happening!” Individuals hear these within the subsequent episodes, and it’s fairly jaw-dropping.

They’re surprising. One thing else surprising within the first episode was that Woody Allen would make Dylan lie in mattress with him when he was in his underwear, and that Mia and even somebody outdoors the household, Priscilla Gilman, had walked in on that.

Ziering: We talked to some specialists as we have been doing our analysis, they usually have been saying these are basic grooming patterns. It’s this habits that proper at first appears unseemly perhaps, however perhaps OK. However if you happen to’re not an skilled on this area, you don’t know acknowledge it. And the transgressions are delicate, they usually occur incrementally, which you see in Episode 1 — [Dylan] sucking [Allen’s] thumb. It’s these slight transgressions — of non-public house, of applicable habits — that you simply normalize the kid to.

Are you able to speak about why you felt it crucial to determine that Woody Allen is an iconic filmmaker with all of the speaking heads?

Dick: For a youthful technology who hasn’t grown up so fully together with his work, I believe it was vital to try this. It was additionally, I believe, vital to acknowledge his accomplishments. It’s truthful; he has completed an ideal deal. But in addition, to indicate that how revered and revered he was — by society, by critics, by the trade. It was that respect, that reverence that truly gave him numerous alternative to create the spin that he did afterward.

Ziering: It’s about a lot higher themes: It’s concerning the energy of movie star, the impunity of privilege. The impunity that the ability of movie star can confer on folks. The way in which {that a} movie star grooms all of us, to some extent, to be blind to sure non-public acts which may not accord with what we understand their public persona to be.

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Woody Allen and Mia Farrow on a household trip.
Globe Pictures/mediapunch/Shutterstock

Mia says on the finish of the sequence that she’s nonetheless frightened of him, and about what he’ll do as soon as he sees or hears about what’s within the documentary. Have you considered that each for the Farrows’ sake and for the challenge’s?

Herdy: I believe that’s knee-jerk PTSD on her half, and understandably so, proper? Whenever you attempt to ask her to call what she fears that he’ll do, it’s, “Well, he could do anything.”

Dick: He has accomplished loads…

Ziering: She’s been via loads. She was publicly excoriated for many years — she has rightful trepidation, she has not been handled kindly by the press. It’s been introduced as “he said/she said” the place it’s actually only a “he said” narrative time and again and time and again. And he or she hasn’t had a voice in it. I imply, I’d be scared too if I have been her.

And I actually suppose all of us owe her and Dylan and all of the Farrows and everybody who spoke with us a societal debt. For his or her braveness and for his or her capacity to beat their fears and say, “You know what? We hope this helps other people.”

Ronan is clearly a massively completed journalist together with his personal observe report of investigations into sexual assault and lots of different issues. Was he supplying you with any enter alongside the way in which from his perspective on the film?

Ziering: No, this can be a very impartial investigation. It was the opposite — similar to Mia, I wish to be completely and patently clear that they have been all extraordinarily trepidatious and never desirous to take part. What helped them overcome that worry and agree extraordinarily reluctantly to giving us a minimal period of time in these interviews was that they felt that we have been truly uncovering issues that had not ever been revealed to the general public.

Herdy: And issues that they didn’t know. It’s revealed in Episode 1 that Dylan was put into remedy when she was 5 for being shy and unhappy and withdrawn. Which we all know now in 2021 are basic signs that one thing is happening with that baby that’s very, very improper. They didn’t acknowledge it again then.

She disclosed twice to her therapist that she had a secret. And it wasn’t mentioned in a cheerful means. So this was a woman who was clearly troubled. And this was two years earlier than she got here ahead with any sort of allegation about him molesting her on the residence in Connecticut.

I used to be going to ask you about that. What do you suppose that secret was?

Herdy: I don’t wish to assume, as a result of I don’t assume something. But when I have been a therapist treating a toddler, I believe I might have pursued it. And I believe I might have knowledgeable the kid’s mom. She didn’t inform Mia; Mia didn’t know.

Ziering: Once we talked to specialists, they continuously say that one of many issues predators do is they are saying, “This is our secret.” And that’s one of many basic ways in which predators get youngsters to not discuss, proper? So when Amy uncovered that, which was new data that Dylan had truly gone to a therapist two years earlier than this incident, it’s fairly important. And revelatory.

Is the implication, then, that he was molesting her already?

Ziering: You need to draw your individual conclusions. What we confirmed it all through was, as I mentioned earlier, there have been these incremental behaviors: sleeping in mattress with underwear, sucking the thumb. Consultants will inform you there’s an incremental transgression of boundaries in order that all the pieces turns into normalized while you truly do extra profound violations. However they’re all violations in my e book.

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Dylan Farrow
Courtesy of HBO

Was there anybody that you simply wished to interview who wouldn’t discuss?

Herdy: Nicely, there was anyone that we discovered, and it was too late. And it was a type of forehead-slapping moments. Allison Stickland: who was the nanny who truly was an eyewitness to habits between Woody Allen and Dylan, who testified within the custody trial and gave a sworn assertion to police that she walked in and Woody had his face in Dylan’s bare lap.

I despatched a snail mail letter, a really fastidiously worded one, and mentioned, “If you are Allison Stickland who was a nanny in Connecticut, I would love to have a conversation with you,” and put my cellphone quantity in it. And apparently, she obtained the letter and debated it for a number of weeks. After which she despatched me a textual content message the day after we locked, and mentioned, “Sure, I’ll talk to you.” And it was excruciatingly painful. However we did discuss to her for a podcast. She’s superb. And he or she nonetheless remembers all the pieces very vividly.

The sequence makes an argument about films corresponding to “Manhattan,” drawing a direct line between what Allen was placing on display screen and his alleged off-screen habits. HBO Max at present has 5 Woody Allen/Mia Farrow collaborations to stream. What do you consider that?

Ziering: We speak about that in Episode 4; we go into depth concerning the selections folks need to make about consuming product. It’s one thing that many individuals speak about fighting. And that’s additionally why we wish folks to suppose and replicate on that.

I believe there’s numerous artwork on the market with sophisticated biographical backgrounds. We invite folks to make their very own selections.

What would you like viewers to be fascinated by after they’ve watched all 4 episodes? What would you like folks to remove from it?

Ziering: It’s concerning the energy that movie star confers on people, and the way in which that it might blind us all to uncomfortable truths.

It’s additionally an actual and intense meditation and reflection on incest, which was one of many the explanation why to do that challenge — it’s the third rail. Now #MeToo has occurred, nevertheless it hasn’t but occurred for survivors of these sorts of crimes in their very own family. That has its personal set of horrors and complexities that we actually want to take a look at. And society can be loads more healthy if we did.

Dick: It turns into this psychological horror story, actually, within the first episode. To see the attitude of a kid and a accomplice when it’s slowly dawning on them that one thing will not be proper with an individual that’s deep contained in the household can be a household psychological horror story that I believe is extraordinarily cinematic, and offers you a perspective into what many individuals in households the place incest is occurring.

Do you are feeling like Dylan will lastly have been heard after that is throughout?

Ziering: Our hope is that folks lastly see the reality.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

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