“The show has to go on,” said Sylvia Bizio The Hollywood Reporter on Tuesday, speaking by phone from the town of Ostuni in southern Italy, where Allora Festa new film festival led by veteran Italian journalist in collaboration with Italian art critic Sol Costales Doulton, had just closed its first day.
About 48 hours earlier, Oscar-winning director Paul Haggis, a key figure in the design of Allora Fest, was arrested in Ostuni after a British woman told authorities that Haggis had sexually abused her. (The writer-director-producer has faced four other allegations of sexual assault in the United States in the past.) Haggis’s Italian lawyer, Michele Laforgia, said Haggis was “completely innocent.”
Haggis helped recruit several Hollywood A-listers to the Allora Fest – Edward Norton and Alfred Woodard honored their commitment to attend master classes on Tuesday and others who will attend the festival, which runs through July 26. Oliver Stone, Jeremy Irons, Jon Hamm, Matt Dillon and Marisa Tomei.
Haggis himself, meanwhile, was to coordinate a series of master classes and had lined up both his son, James Haggis, assistant director, and his daughter, Alisa Haggis, screenwriter, for their own master classes (the latter with screenwriter Amanda Moresco, daughter of Bobby Moresco, with whom Haggis shared the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay Conflict).
At the time of Haggis’ arrest, the aforementioned relatives had already arrived in Ostuni. However, it was decided by the festival that their master classes would not proceed. “We took them away from active participation,” says Bizio, a longtime and respected member of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. ΘΡadding that she and Doulton have intervened to coordinate the master classes that were to be conducted by Haggis himself.
As for Haggis, who is said to be under house arrest in a hotel in Ostuni? “It’s not that he was ‘uninvited,'” Bizio explained. “Legally he can not participate. And honestly, from now until 26, I very much doubt that this will be resolved. “
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