The makers of new HBO docuseries “Allen v. Farrow,” which investigates Dylan Farrow’s allegations she was sexually abused by her adopted father Woody Allen, say they reached out to the director for his input but didn’t receive a response. (Feb. 19)
A new docuseries, “Allen v. Farrow,” puts the spotlight once more on writer Dylan Farrow’s accusation of sexual assault at the hands of her adoptive father, filmmaker Woody Allen. But the four-part HBO project, debuting Sunday (9 EST/PST) goes beyond rehashing the nearly three-decades-old incident, providing viewers with new evidence including the first look at the long-discussed footage of Dylan, at age 7, recounting the alleged abuse.
“Allen v. Farrow” also features audiotapes of phone conversations between Farrow and Allen, her partner of 12 years, and interviews with Farrow family members, including Dylan, Mia and son Ronan. Family friends of Mia, including singer Carly Simon, highlight what they see as Allen’s flaws.
Kirby Dick, who directed the project with Amy Ziering, says that going in, he was unsure of Allen’s innocence or guilt.
“I didn’t really have an opinion on it, per se, until we started digging into this and finding all this information that had never gone public,” he says, “because Woody Allen’s spin machine was so successful in confusing the public and confusing me. That’s one of the things that I think this series does, is it really gives you a much deeper understanding of what really happened and how so much of it was covered up.”
The four-time Oscar winning “Annie Hall” director and his wife, Soon-Yi Previn, whom Mia adopted with ex-husband André Previn, did not respond to interview requests for the docuseries, the filmmakers say. Moses, Allen’s adopted son with Mia, claims his father is innocent and declined to participate, but is seen in archival home-movie footage shot by Mia. Allen’s voice is heard in the docuseries from the audiobook version of his 2020 memoir “Apropos of Nothing.”
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Filmmaker Woody Allen and actress Mia Farrow, photographed in New York in 1984, were romantically involved for more than a decade and collaborated on numerous films. (Photo: FRANKIE ZITHS/ASSOCIATED PRESS)
“We’re very, very careful whenever we do something like this to keep it very close to the vest so that we can do the exploring we need to unimpeded,” Ziering says. The docuseries was dubbed “The Eliza Project,” referring to a name once used by Dylan.
Allen has repeatedly denied Dylan’s allegations that he assaulted her in the summer of 1992 in the attic of Farrow’s Connecticut home, and has been defended by famous pals like Diane Keaton, Alec Baldwin and Scarlett Johansson, all of whom appeared in his movies.
Allen wrote in a 2014 essay for The New York Times that he believes Dylan was used by Mia “as a pawn for revenge” after she felt scorned. Although they had always lived apart, their romance ended in early 1992 when she discovered his collection of sexual pictures of Soon-Yi, then in college. That summer, Dylan alleges, Allen assaulted her. (John Burnham, Allen’s longtime agent, didn’t respond to a request for comment on the documentary.)
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Mia Farrow, with her children Ronan Farrow, left, and Dylan Farrow. (Photo: Courtesy of HBO)
An interview with Dylan and investigative work by producer Amy Herdy convinced the directors there was more the public needed to know about the story.
“I’m in my late 50s,” Ziering says, “So in the ’90s, when this came out, I was sort of the prime demographic for being very susceptible to what the dominant narrative of the time was. I had, you know, a very different opinion going into this than I did coming out.”
Ziering says Dylan and Mia weren’t eager to participate in the docuseries. It took one month for a “cautious” Dylan to agree to be interviewed, they said,and 10 months to convince Mia.
“Because there’s only been one narrative, really, that resounded in the press up until 2014 – without any kind of perforation or complications – they did not feel that anyone who looked into their story was really going to deal with it fairly and honestly and with integrity,” Ziering says. “They were reluctant and anxious throughout, and Mia only finally agreed after multiple requests because Dylan asked her to. Dylan said, ‘Look, I think if we don’t speak then, no one will ever know the truth.'”
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Writer Dylan Farrow, the adopted daughter of Mia Farrow and Woody Allen. (Photo: Courtesy of HBO)
Despite the claims and scrutiny over the past three decades, Allen has never been charged with any crimes. In 1993, Connecticut state attorney Frank Maco decided against prosecuting Allen, saying that although he had probable cause, he did not wish to inflict any further anguish on Dylan by making her testify. Now, Dylan, 35, is seizing her moment.
She says in the first episode that Allen gave her “intense affection, all the time.”
“I was always in his clutches,” she says. “He was always hunting me.”
Dylan says she remembers Allen cuddling her in bed, while they were both in their underwear and how he told her to suck his thumb.
Thinking of her younger self motivates her to speak now.
“I wish that I had been stronger,” she says in Sunday’s premiere, “that I hadn’t crumpled so much under the pressure, and I need to, in a way, prove to myself that I can face it, which is probably why I feel so strongly about coming forward now.”
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