Ousted Barrot fights back

Artistic adviser sez he did not resign from his post

PARIS — The saga over Olivier Barrot’s departure as artistic adviser to the Cannes Intl. Film Festival took a fresh turn Tuesday with Barrot claiming that he was “brutally and unilaterally” sacked.

Until now, Barrot has been the soul of equanimity over the split, rumors of which were fueled by his absence at a festival press conference last week.

While fest prexy Pierre Viot refused to comment, Barrot quietly confirmed he was no longer working for the festival, maintaining that he had been “miscast” as artistic director Gilles Jacob’s No. 2 and future successor.

At the office where he produces “A Book a Day,” a program he presents on pubcaster France 3, Barrot last week described himself as a “very old friend” of Jacob, refusing to say any more while his lawyers discussed severance terms with the festival’s lawyers.

But his tone had changed by Tuesday. Responding to what he described as “unfounded allegations” in the French media, Barrot told the French press agency AFP that he did not resign as artistic adviser.

“My functions were brutally and unilaterally brought to an end for reasons that have not been brought to my knowledge,” Barrot declared. “Because of this, I find myself forced to assert the rights that are mine under the circumstances.”

Festival organizers refused to comment to AFP and were unreachable late Tuesday.

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