Woody Allen was the target of a rape joke as he sat in the audience for the Cannes Film Festival opening ceremony. The famous director, whose movie Cafe Society kicked off the 69th annual film festival, was slammed by French comedian and master of ceremonies Laurent Lafitte with a joke that left the Cannes audience gasping in shock, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
“You’ve shot so many of your films here in Europe and yet in the U.S., you haven’t even been convicted of rape,” Lafitte said to Allen.
The joke aimed at Woody Allen presumably compares him to disgraced director Roman Polanski, who fled to Europe while on probation for a 1977 conviction for having sex with a minor and has never returned to the United States to face charges. Polanski remains a wanted man in the U.S., and he didn’t even return to accept his Academy Award for his film The Piano.
The Cannes audience was reportedly shocked by Lafitte’s joke about Woody Allen, which came just minutes after Allen received a standing ovation for his film work. Lafitte later thanked Woody Allen for hiring French actors to work in his films.
“Thank you for coming tonight, sir,” he told Allen in French. “But it’s good, because you give badly-paid bit parts to French actors, which kind of puts them in their place.”
While Woody was clearly blindsided by the Cannes call-out, is the joke enough to catapult charges against Woody Allen to Bill Cosby-level? The lid was blown off of Cosby’s world when he was the subject of a rape joke by comedian Hannibal Buress in 2014, and since that time, dozens of women have come forward with allegations against the once-beloved Cosby Show star. Indeed, a media firestorm could kick off against Allen too now that he has been called out by a comedian.
Woody Allen made headlines when he married his stepdaughter, Soon-Yi Previn, nearly 20 years ago. And in 1993, charges were filed against Allen when his biological daughter, Dylan, alleged that he molested her as a child. The case was later dropped after a seven-month probe into the allegations so as not to cause any more trauma to Dylan, but Allen’s legal team has alleged that his ex, Mia Farrow, brainwashed their daughter because she was bitter over Woody’s relationship with Soon-Yi.
Reaction to the Woody Allen rape joke was swift, with some people giving props to the French comic for having the guts to call Allen out when news reporters won’t. Others slammed Hollywood stars who continue to work with Woody Allen.
The joke about Woody Allen comes the same day that his estranged son, Ronan Farrow, penned a scathing essay about his father and how Hollywood and the media continue to protect him amid allegations that he molested his daughter Dylan Farrow. In a pointed essay for THR, Ronan Farrow wrote that Woody’s PR machine kicked into high gear as soon as his sister, Dylan, alleged that their father molested her as a child. Ronan blasted Cannes, the Golden Globes, and Amazon for continuing to support Woody, and he also called out Hollywood stars like Blake Lively, Kristen Stewart, and Jesse Eisenberg for continuing to work with him.
Laurent Lafitte appears in the Isabelle Huppert’s Cannes rape drama Elle, a Cannes entry directed by Paul Verhoeven. But it sounds like his most famous Cannes moment will be his rape joke about Woody Allen.
Take a look at the video below to see Woody Allen talking about the Cannes Film Festival.
[Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images]