Cannes Opening Night Starts With Rape Joke Aimed at Woody Allen

Cafe Society Cannes premiere
James Gourley/REX/Shutterstock

The 69th Cannes Film Festival got off to an awkward start when Woody Allen, whose new film “Cafe Society” kicked off the fest, was the subject of a rape joke during Wednesday night’s opening ceremony.

“It’s very nice that you’ve been shooting so many movies in Europe, even if you are not being convicted for rape in the U.S.,” said master of ceremonies Laurent Lafitte.

The joke, which drew gasps from the Palais audience, was taken as a knock on Allen and possibly on director Roman Polanski as well.

French comedian Lafitte co-stars in Paul Verhoeven’s rape drama, “Ellen,” which premieres next week at Cannes.

“Thank you for coming tonight, sir,” he continued in French. “But it’s good, because you give badly-paid bit parts to French actors, which kind of puts them in their place.”

The 80 year-old filmmaker had received a standing ovation just minutes before.

Later, popular French actor Matthieu Chedid, aka M, performed a special tribute to Prince, singing “Purple Rain” against a purple backdrop to the delight of the crowd.

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Photos: Cannes Opening Night, Red Carpet Arrivals

Allen, joined by cast members Kristen Stewart, Jesse Eisenberg and Blake Lively on the red carpet, was making his 12th Cannes appearance with the movie. It was his third time opening the international fest. “Cafe Society,” a fairy tale set in 1930s Hollywood, made for an appropriate launch to a festival that focuses on classic movie glamour.

Before the opening ceremony, the red carpet was damp with rain before sunshine and stars like Justin Timberlake warmed up the atmosphere. Oscar-nominated actress Jessica Chastain was also on hand for the festivities, as were Eva Longoria, Victoria Beckham and Naomi Watts. Timberlake was in France to promote his new animated film “Trolls” opposite Anna Kendrick, who wore a stunning yellow gown.

“Cannes is an extraordinary festival, I see so many people I know and the audience always responds well,” said Allen before the festivities. “I like Hollywood, seeing friends there, but I couldn’t live there.”

Jury president George Miller, whose “Mad Max: Fury Road” wowed Cannes last year, was honored with a montage of his career during the ceremony.

“I will tell you this jury will deliberate very assiduously,” he told the audience.

While on the red carpet, jury member Laszlo Nemes said to a Canal Plus journo that the alchemy between his fellow jury members was already working well. “At the same time, everyone seems to have strong opinions so it will be it will interesting,” said the Hungarian filmmaker, who was raised in France.

Actress Kirsten Dunst, a member of this year’s jury, said “George Miller is so kind. He brings everyone together in a nice way.”

Also in attendance on the red carpet: Belgian actress Virginie Efira, who stars in Paul Verhoeven’s competition entry “Elle” and in Justine Triet’s “In Bed With Victoria,” which is opening Critics’ Week.

At Wednesday’s early morning press screenings, word of mouth on “Cafe Society” wasn’t great. But the pic, which opens July 15 in the U.S., was met with a warmer reception than Allen’s recent films such as “Irrational Man” (which screened at Cannes last year) or “Magic in the Moonlight.”

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  1. Gayle says:

    Why do some people try and make an argument for Woody Allen using a tone of moral indignation? Now, that’s comedy!

  2. grumblechik says:

    Woody Allen. Pedophile, child molester, creep. Don’t care for the man or his work. He should be in jail.

    • goatsandmonkeys says:

      you must also be disgusted by Mia Farrow’s brother, who is serving prison time for molesting 2 children.

      • Sal U. Lloyd says:

        Allen needs to be charged. The studios are enablers. He is gutless. And it hurts too, because BLUE JAZMINE was such an excellent movie. I will not be seeing Cafe Society however.

      • karen silva says:

        the article is about Woody Allen, don’t try to deflect, all pedophiles are vile and disgusting. It does seem that Hollywood can overlook it if it means money in their pockets. interesting how the stars go out for fund raisers, “causes”, anything to get publicity, go off and lead their hypocritical, hedonistic lives and everyone buys into it.

  3. It’s about time SOMEBODY pulls the rug out from under WOODY ” I raped my daughter then married her” ALLEN. The fact Hollywood STILL caters to this pedophile is embarrassing and humiliating to victims & survivors.

    • Sal U. Lloyd says:

      Yeah, question is, will TOM MCCARTHY make a movie about him or Bryan Singer??? No, they’re part of the industry, so they get a free pass!

    • Jak says:

      The one he raped isn’t the one he married.

      • courtlady says:

        he raped dylan but had sex with his wife whilst she was a minor, allegedly of course. too bad the dogs in the family can’t talk

  4. Max says:

    Matthieu Chedid isn’t an actor. He is a singer and a song-writer.

  5. Tammy says:

    I refuse to go to any of Woody’s films since finding out in the late 80’s. Even when I try to catch a clip, my stomach turns.

  6. Lisa says:

    A ‘rape joke’ is an oxymoron. There’s nothing funny about rape. But apparently Variety thinks so. I believe Allen raped his daughter. I believe he’s guilty of rape and incest. He married his other daughter for Pete’s sake. If your wife adopts a child and you’re living as a family, the child she adopts is your daughter. Period.
    I think we should re-consider our values. I was tempted to get tickets to the film only because ‘everyone else was’, but I re-thought my values and decided to go with Money Monster by Jodie Foster instead.

    • Gerard Kennelly says:

      was spielberg accused of sex abuse? was scorsese accused of sex abuse? was george lucas accused of sex abuse? Ohh poor woody, Mia wants to destroy you

      • None of them were involved with Mia either. But you’ve got to admit he’s come up with a novel concept: because other members of Woody’s profession have not been accused of sex abuse, that automatically makes Woody guilty.

      • Joseph Rotundo says:

        What do Spielberg, Scorsese or Lucas have to do with the topic? the answer is no, they weren’t.

  7. Those of us who defend Woody are not conspiracy theorists, because a conspiracy requires two people to effectuate. We are saying that one person (Mia) set out to destroy Woody out of anger, spite, or whatever, using the absolute worst allegations you can lob against a person. We’re saying the allegations have never been proven. We cling to the perhaps now out of date concept that allegations require proof before they can be believed. Soon Yi was an adult when she entered into that “adult” relationship with Woody and fully capable of making her own decisions. Even Mia’s household staff admitted that, when Soon Yi was growing up, she and Woody barely spoke to each other, let alone had any kind of relationship, except perhaps once or twice on isolated occasions with other people around.

    • Lisa says:

      No, if what you are saying is accurate, then it would be Mia who would be accusing Allen of rape. But, it is his daughter and Mia according you. Ergo, conspiracy theory.

      • Oh, yes, Mia — who has been leading the movement to allow Roman Polanski, who is a convicted child rapist, to return to this country without facing any consequences.

  8. BillUSA says:

    I don’t think the subject of rape is humorous at all. But hey, it’s France so it must be okay to them. I also find it hypocritical of a Frenchman to be criticizing pedophile Woody Allen and pedophile Roman Polanski at an annually-held fete’ which has honored them.

    No, I wasn’t there (in Allen’s case) to know if the accusations are true or not. My gut tells me they are – due to many factors each too lengthy to describe. I don’t require any other proof about Polanski – we all know he’s guilty.

    I especially love how people try to dismiss the accusations aimed at Allen as they come across as conspiracy theorists in so doing. Look, we’ve all been lied about, but for me, the substance of the case against Allen is that he entered into an adult relationship with Soon-Yi.

    That speaks volumes.

  9. Soon-Yi was never Woody’s daughter, legally or otherwise. There would be no reason for him to call her his daughter. Woody and Mia were not a “family” by any means. They didn’t live together. They maintained separate lives. She was growing up in Mia’s household, not Woody’s. If the standard for a daughter is that the adults are co-stars, then virtually everyone who co-stars with another person is the parent of the other person’s child. They were hardly partners. By her own admission Mia was carrying on an affair with the very married Frank Sinatra, at the same time she was supposed to be Woody’s “partner.” Also now Mia hints that Ronan Farrow may in fact be Sinatra’s son, not Woody’s. That means Mia got pregnant through an adulterous affair. It also means she committed fraud by collecting child support from Woody for years by claiming Ronan was his son. These are hardly the actions of “partners” or “family.” I am currently dating a woman whose daughter is 7 years old; none of us, including the 7 year old, consider me to be her father. In today’s world, many people date others with children — that doesn’t make them the fathers (or mothers) of those children. There were many, many holes in Mia’s allegations. Moreover, anyone can allege anything about anyone. That doesn’t make the allegation true.

    • Gerard Kennelly says:

      ” I am currently dating a woman whose daughter is 7 years old; none of us, including the 7 year old, consider me to be her father ”

      are you grooming her ?

      • Please provide proof of your allegation that I am “grooming her.” Or an apology. Otherwise my attorneys will find you and sue you for defamation. Also, if every man who dates a woman with children is automatically suspected of “grooming” the child, then perhaps we should simply stop dating women with children, especially daughters. Of course that would also disqualify a lot of women from the dating pool. I wonder how many women would like to be disqualified simply because they have children and men don’t want to be automatically suspected of “grooming.” In the meantime, Gerard, either provide your proof, an apology, or find yourself a damn good attorney and be prepared to pay. And, by the way, don’t cry “free speech.” There are limits to free speech — and defamation is one of them.

  10. After the red carpet is over, looking forward to the films like The BFG and Neon Demon! :D

    • courtlady says:

      so you would not believe the child you was raped but you would believe the housekeeper as a witness to actions that would normally occur behind closed doors and done quite secretly
      and mr grippo, a question is NOT defamation, so pontificate, bluster, bully and threaten to your heart’s content, it’s apparent where your coming from.

      • Charles Grippo says:

        I’m not going to repeat still again the many ways in which the Dylan/Mia allegations against Woody have fallen apart. Others have done that already. But to Courtlady, I will say this: I do not bluff or bully. My defamation matter is none of your business, so stick your nose elsewhere. It is between the original poster who made the comment and myself. I am perfectly willing to let a court decide the matter — not a coward who refuses to take responsibility for her comments by posting under her real name but instead uses a cloak of anonymity, calling herself “Courtlady.”

        I come from the standpoint of truth and the requirement of proof and the idea that a person is innocent until proven guilty. These are the concepts that have formed the legal and moral basis of all of the greatest civilizations for centuries. Even Jesus said “Judge not, lest ye be judged,” and “He who is without sin cast the first stone.” History has shown us there have been too many small minded and bigoted people who have formed judgments on the basis of allegations, with devastating consequences to life or reputation: the vigilantes who lynched innocent people in the Old West and the South; the Mary Phagan case; the Salem witch hunters; the people who turned in their friends and neighbors to the Gestapo; the McCarthy Communist hunts; the “false memory” childhood sex abuse cases of the 1980’s. In the latest trend, children are being coached to lie about sex abuse as a lever in divorce/custody/support cases; there have been so many of these, judges are becoming skeptical of them and the various bar associations, child welfare groups, and social service organizations are trying to figure how a way to determine which ones are true and which are false.

        More recently, there have been the posters who knew, absolutely knew, that the Duke LaCross team was guilty. They knew that the fraternity at the University of Virginia had committed rape, because, hey, Rolling Stones Magazine said so. Then, when these cases fell apart, none of these holier-than-thou posters had the guts and the moral responsibility to go back on the comment boards and say “I was wrong. I’m sorry.”

        And, yes, I am grooming my friend’s seven year old, to always seek the truth, to be fair minded, to demand proof before passing judgment, to think and analyze critically, to question the credibility of the parties. And, God, my friend and I hope she practices those values when she grows up.

  11. Brian “You were raped?”

    Brian’s mum “Well, at first.”

  12. GKN says:

    Lafitte sounds like a flaming a-hole. Or else his speech-writer is. What idiot chose him as MC?

  13. Denver says:

    google the name moses farrow… he is the son of mia and brother of dylan… gave an interview 2 years ago… says that mia went crazy after woody left her for soon yi… the accusations are fake… it’s a concerted effort by the family to hurt him… she brainwashed the kids and beat them as they grew up… moses was in the house at the time of the accusation and it never occurred… woody also passed a lie detector test back then and was not prosecuted. and no one else has ever come forward about other allegations as opposed to what happened with cosby. it’s one accusation coming from a scorned very angry ex gf. google moses farrow

    • No one wants facts. People want scapegoats. Allen did nothing wrong. Bradley Cooper dates women barely old enough to know what a grown-up relationship is but he’s praised through the roof because he’s good looking. Let’s just get down to it. We’re a very a shallow society so facts and evidence don’t exist. Allen never accepted Soon yi as his daughter. In fact, Farrow adopted her but Allen refused to call her his daughter or let her take his name. The guy was never trying to do anything twisted. If he was a good looking guy, he’d get a pass guarantee it. You know Mel Gibson? Supposed neo-nazi, Christian extremist. After those insults he said, he spent years doing things like traveling to Jerusalem to understand Muslims. IN any case, all that stemmed from him being attacked and threatened during the making of “The Passion of the Christ”. So who is the real aggressor there? No one cares though. We like to persecute people, cast the stones, and really does that make you better? Much like Chris Rock and the Oscars this year, it’s clear that only the stereotype victims can say whatever they want, even if it’s not true. They can guilt-trip and make everyone feel like monsters for nothing…and they did nothing wrong. Hypocrisy and the opposite of a supposed just society.

      • facts says:

        He refused to call her his daughter!? But she was growing up around him, was part of his family, was a peer to the rest of his kids, was at the very least the daughter of his co-star and partner, and was under-age when they got together.

        There’s a few problems, for starters, never mind the molestation accusations. You see how Bradley Cooper’s choice of mates is entirely different, right?

      • Oh and just pointing out, Mia Farrow flat out admitted she was still seeing Frank Sinatra, quoting “We never really broke up when she was with Allen. So all I see is a bitter woman who is no better claiming to be the Virgin Mary.

      • Um what? She wasn’t underage. LOL Someone never looks up stuff and is all about the gossip. Soon Yi herself said she never was around him as a kid an they didn’t start seeing each other till she was in her 20’s. She also directly says she never saw Allen as a father figure. So no I don’t see a difference. Allen was working nonstop. Have you ever seen this guy’s filmography? Guy does a new movie every year or two, sometimes more. Clearly he wasn’t home much. I’m not going to condemn a guy who started seeing a grown woman who psychologically never perceived Allen as a father figure. Read an interview. You can be self-righteous all you want about this. And I’m not condemning Cooper either but I am saying that if two consenting adults are seeing each other than who cares? And let.’a keep in mind Allen’s own child Moses, the oldest one, has condemned those accusations and can attest as a witness that Allen was being supervised when he visited his kids which the court ruled and this is public knowledge. Do research before you preach.

  14. seeing as they did open that door I will walk through it.Both Allen and Stewart have had very pubic affairs only to band together for a love story. Did they not see it coming? Allen was known for saving money on film what’s the big deal now?

  15. CJB says:

    Pity one of the cast didn’t spit in the face of Mr. Lafitte!

  16. I agree that rape is not a subject for “humor,” no matter whom it is directed at. The joke was way out of line, regardless of what one thinks of Allen or Polanski.

    • Harry says:

      It seemed less of a joke to me and more of a direct attack towards alleged rapists who weren’t convicted…if there is truth there that is raising awareness and standing for rape victims who didn’t see justice made.

  17. Jouni says:

    “The 80 year-old filmmaker had received a standing ovation just minutes before.”

    are you sure we were watching the same show? the only person who got a standing ovation was ms. Catherine Deneuve.

  18. I’m sorry, but rape isn’t a subject to joke about and the comment by the master of ceremonies was gauche.

  19. Nanny Mo says:

    As tasteless as things can be sometimes, I’m glad to see that as a culture we are grown up enough to not be offended about EVERYTHING! A society will not be free if they are continually allowing inner editing and fear to dictate their words and choices. I applaud the freedom, but note that it is still tasteless.

  20. EricJ says:

    Yes, it was a Roman Polanski joke–Although it was aimed at the director who came onto the Oscars the year after 9/11 and said “Come back to NYC, it’s the greatest city in the world!” and rushed off to do movies in Barcelona and Paris where they still watch his.

    • Further Allen was not directing his 2002 Oscars speech to the film making community — which never really left NY after 9/11. His comments were directed to the television audience. He was telling people to travel to NY again for business/pleasure. He was attempting to boost the city’s economy, which had taken a hit, by encouraging the masses to come back to the city.

    • Dennis says:

      Allen made 3 films in NYC after that before going to London for Match Point, and he only shot that in London because he could only get British financing. Plus, the 2002 Oscars are the only Oscars Allen has ever attended, and he went just to give that speech. Don’t be obtuse.

    • Allen has been doing films in Barcelona and Paris and elsewhere because that’s where his financing has been coming from. He still lives in NYC. He still boosts it in interviews, but, like all film makers, he still needs to satisfy the requirements of his investors.

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