Woody Allen’s ‘Rifkin’s Festival’ Is Opening in U.S. Theaters
Following renewed scrutiny in recent years over the sexual abuse allegations against Woody Allen brought by his adopted daughter, it was unclear whether Allen’s latest film, “Rifkin’s Festival,” would get a U.S. theatrical release.
Actors and producers in the United States have increasingly declined to work with Allen, but he has continued to find support in Europe. “Rifkin’s Festival” received backing from Spanish and Italian production companies and premiered at the San Sebastián Film Festival in Spain in 2020.
Starting on Friday, “Rifkin’s Festival” will get a limited run in some theaters in the United States — the list is currently 25 theaters long, according to the movie’s website. The only theater in New York City that is signed up to show the film is Quad Cinema, in Greenwich Village.
It is also available to stream on several platforms, including Amazon Prime Video, iTunes and Google Play.
The sexual abuse allegations against Allen, 86, received a new wave of attention last year after HBO released its docuseries “Allen v. Farrow,” which examined Dylan Farrow’s accusation that he sexually assaulted her at the family’s Connecticut country house in 1992. Dylan and her mother, Mia Farrow, participated in the project, walking the filmmakers through the events of that time, including the prosecutor’s decision not to press charges against Allen to spare Dylan the trauma of a trial.
Allen, who has long denied the allegations, called the series a “shoddy hit piece” that “had no interest in the truth.”
“Rifkin’s Festival” is about an ex-film professor and struggling novelist who accompanies his publicist wife to a film festival in Spain (the same one that premiered the movie). The husband (played by Wallace Shawn) only goes to keep an eye on his wife (Gina Gershon) and her flirtations with a hotshot director.
The critic Jessica Kiang reviewed the film for The New York Times after its premiere, and compared it favorably to Allen’s 2019 film “A Rainy Day in New York,” which was dropped by Amazon as scrutiny increased over Dylan Farrow’s allegations and ended up having a limited theatrical run in the United States. (Allen sued Amazon for terminating his four-picture deal; the company settled.)
“‘Rifkin’s Festival’ is far less objectionable,” Kiang wrote, “and though that is praise so faint it needs smelling salts, with latter-day Woody Allen, we must be thankful for small mercies.”
In recent years, some actors have said that they would not work with Allen because of Dylan Farrow’s allegations, but others have come to the director’s defense.
In November, Shawn defended his decision to take the role, writing in an essay in The Wrap that he has been “troubled by the speed with which some of my colleagues in the acting fraternity have distanced themselves from Woody.”
In a recent interview with WGN television station in Chicago, Gershon said she chose to work with Allen because he is a “genius.”
“It serves no one to keep great artists from working, even the alleged victims, right?” she said.
A representative for Dylan Farrow did not comment.
Letty Aronson, Allen’s sister and a producer on the film, did not respond to requests for comment.