the industry

Woody Allen’s Italian Distributor on Censorship, American Audiences, and ‘Injustice’

Photo: Gravier Pictures

The latest Woody Allen movie, A Rainy Day in New York, is unlikely to arrive in U.S. theaters anytime soon, but that hasn’t stopped distributors in Italy, Spain, Germany, and most other European countries from releasing the film. It premiered in Poland on July 6, and it will open the Deauville American Film Festival in France on September 6.

“It’s a pity that the American audience is precluded from watching it,” Andrea Occhipinti, founder and CEO of Lucky Red, the first independent distributor in Italy and the company responsible for Rainy Day’s Italian release, tells Vulture. “Censorship is never the answer. We are all grown up and we can decide what is good for us and what is not.”

Occhipinti — who brought films by Xavier Dolan, Paul Thomas Anderson, and Todd Haynes to Italy, and distributed Allen’s previous film, Wonder Wheel — was the first distributor to pick up the movie after Amazon dropped the film in 2018, claiming “Allen’s actions and their cascading consequences ensured that Amazon could never possibly receive the benefit of its four-picture agreement.” The news came after Allen dubbed himself the “poster boy for Me Too” and several of Allen’s former collaborators publicly expressed regrets for working with the filmmaker accused of molesting his daughter. (Allen has denied the accusations.)

“Of course we were aware,” Occhipinti says of allegations that Allen sexually abused Dylan Farrow, which first surfaced in 1992, reemerging in 2014 and the years after. “It was a big concern, but from the best of our knowledge nothing came out of the legal charges. Allen was not prosecuted. So yes, it was a concern, but since there were no charges against him, we decided to distribute the movie as planned.”

Occhipinti suggests that Italians view the allegations — which garnered renewed attention after Farrow criticized some members of the Time’s Up movement in 2018 — as part of an uncomfortable “family dispute.” “On one side there is Dylan and Mia and Ronan, but on the other side there are Allen and Moses, who has been very vocal in defending his father,” Occhipinti says. “So who am I to decide who is right and who is wrong?”

Occhipinti says Lucky Red’s decision to release Rainy Day was met with overwhelmingly positive responses from Italy’s major news outlets and across Italian social media. “Allen has always been loved here,” he explains. “His movies have always been successful. His unique humor and the capacity to describe human nature has always been greatly appreciated. Last June I was in Milan, in the theater where he played with his band, and I felt the sympathy of the audience for him. My interpretation is that Italians think of what is happening to him as an injustice.”

Italy didn’t exactly experience the same reckoning with sexual misconduct that occurred in the U.S. Occhipinti acknowledges that there were very few cases of powerful Italian men accused of sexual harassment or assault, and he believes the reason could be that women in Italian society do not wield as much power as their counterparts in the U.S. “They probably feel more intimidated to speak out. That, and the fact that there is a sexist camaraderie or code of silence between men, has made it more difficult to take down ‘the predators,’” Occhipinti says. “But the movement has had a positive effect on bringing to light the lack of equal rights between men and women on salaries and job roles. Today there is more awareness; the winds have changed. There are some improvements but there is a long way to go to change people’s mentality.”

Allen recently shot a new movie in Spain, and when asked whether or not Occhipinti has plans to distribute that film too, he says, “I’ll evaluate if and when the opportunity arises.”

Woody Allen’s Italian Distributor Pities American Audiences