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‘Three Billboards’ Pulls Out of Fantastic Fest Following Sexual Assault Controversy (EXCLUSIVE)

In the wake of controversy surrounding Austin-based genre film festival Fantastic Fest, scheduled to run Sept. 21-28, Fox Searchlight Pictures has pulled a planned screening of Martin McDonagh’s “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” Variety has learned.

The move comes days after it was revealed that Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, which hosts Fantastic Fest, had quietly been employing disgraced former Birth.Movies.Death editor-in-chief Devin Faraci as a copywriter for months. Faraci made headlines in October 2016 when he was publicly accused of sexual assault and stepped down from his position at the Drafthouse-owned website.

“In light of recent events, the makers of ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,’ have decided not to participate in Fantastic Fest,” a Searchlight rep said in a statement when reached for comment. The studio would not comment further.

The revelation of Faraci’s re-employment had other repercussions as well. It led to the exit of Fantastic Fest programmer Todd Brown, who resigned in protest.

“Anyone who has ever suggested that Fantastic Fest and the Drafthouse is just the geek friendly equivalent of the classic Old Boys Club, you have just been proven correct,” Brown said in a lengthy Facebook post explaining his decision. “There it is, the Club utterly ignoring the victim while it creates a protective ring around the perpetrator … I am embarrassed and ashamed to have been any part of this apparatus and I choose now to leave it.”

After the ensuing internet uproar, Drafthouse CEO Tim League announced that Faraci and the company had officially broken ties for good.

“Our company values the ability to reflect on our actions both individually and as a team,” League said in a statement to his staff announcing Faraci’s second resignation. He then revealed plans to host a series of “small group discussions” focused on the matter, which were to begin Friday.

A rep for Fantastic Fest would not comment.

Other high-profile films scheduled to play Fantastic Fest include A24’s “The Killing of a Sacred Deer,” Paramount’s “Downsizing,” and Magnolia’s Palme d’Or-winner “The Square.”

“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” has screened at the Venice and Toronto film festivals so far. It tells the story of a small town woman, played by Frances McDormand, seeking justice for her raped and murdered daughter after months go by without an arrest.

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