The decades-long saga of child sexual abuse allegations against famed Hollywood director Woody Allen will be explored in a new HBO documentary series.
Allen v Farrow will draw on home movies, police evidence, court documents and never-before-heard audio tapes to explore the 1992 allegation of sexual abuse against Allen by his seven-year-old daughter Dylan with his then wife, Mia Farrow; the custody case that followed in the early 1990s; Allen’s marriage to Farrow’s adopted daughter Soon-Yi Previn; and the years of controversy over how to handle his films and body of work. Allen has repeatedly denied all allegations.
The four-part series, which will premiere on 21 February, comes from directors Kirby Dick, Amy Ziering and Amy Herdy, the film-makers behind The Hunting Ground, the film on college campus sexual assault, and most recently On the Record, which explored longstanding allegations of sexual assault against the hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons and the music industry’s reluctance to root out sexual abuse.
Allen v Farrow will feature exclusive interviews with Dylan Farrow, Mia Farrow and her son Ronan Farrow, the New Yorker journalist, as well as family friend Carly Simon, prosecutor Frank Maco, relatives, investigators, experts and eyewitnesses. The series will also take a broader look Allen’s films and how public allegations can force a reconsideration of an artist’s body of work.
The series is the latest in a years-long, slow-moving reckoning for the acclaimed writer and director of such comedies as Annie Hall, Manhattan, Midnight in Paris and Blue Jasmine. In 2017, Dylan Farrow wrote an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times which asked “Why has the #MeToo revolution spared Woody Allen?” Several prominent Hollywood figures including Greta Gerwig, Colin Firth and Mira Sorvino have publicly vowed not to work with him.
In 2019, Allen sued, then settled, with Amazon after the tech behemoth terminated his film deal, worth $68m, following Allen’s controversial comments on the Harvey Weinstein and #MeToo revelations. Allen called the situation “very sad for everybody involved”, but Amazon pointed to the comment: “You don’t want it to lead to a witch-hunt atmosphere, a Salem atmosphere, where every guy in an office who winks at a woman is suddenly having to call a lawyer to defend himself.’”
The legal battle delayed the release of Allen’s 2017 film A Rainy Day In New York, starring Timothée Chalamet (who donated his salary to charity), until 2020, to mostly negative reviews.
Allen has continued to direct films and deny the allegations, telling the Guardian in May 2020, upon the release of his memoir Apropos of Nothing: “It doesn’t pay to sue. Do I really want to be tabloid fodder for two years and go to court? And do I really care?”
His 50th film, Rifkin’s Festival, starring mostly European actors and backed by the Spanish media giant Mediapro after the Amazon suit, premiered at the San Sebastián film festival in September 2020.