The cast of Woody Allen’s next movie has likened the experience of working with the acclaimed — and controversial — filmmaker to living out a lifelong career fantasy.
Allen assembled his newest group of performers — including Gina Gershon, Wallace Shawn, Elena Anaya, and Sergi López — for a press conference Tuesday in the Spanish city of San Sebastián, according to an announcement from production studio Mediapro, where they discussed working on the 83-year-old’s upcoming romantic comedy in the midst of the Oscar-winner’s $68 million lawsuit against Amazon Studios for terminating a four-picture deal and scrapping the release of his last movie, A Rainy Day in New York, due to reports of alleged sexual abuse against him by his daughter, Dylan Farrow (all of which he has repeatedly denied).
“It’s a beautiful script; a dream come true,” Gershon told reporters of the romantic comedy’s plot, which revolves around an American couple traveling to the annual San Sebastián Film Festival, where they’re swept up by the exotic locale’s beauty, charms, and romantic temptations.
“These are crazy times; one has to analyze the situation and decide how you feel,” she continued, referencing Allen’s ongoing controversies. “I’m delighted to be part of this team.”
Additionally, The Hollywood Reporter indicated Gershon addressed a question about the #MeToo movement and proposed boycotts of the film, saying: “While I think there’s a lot of good that’s coming out of all these different movements, I just feel it’s really important that people really take a look at every situation and really make up their own minds about it.”
Allen further told attendees he has no plans to retire after shooting the film — tentatively titled Rifkin’s Festival — which begins production in San Sebastián (as well as various beaches and forests close to the area) on July 10 ahead of an Aug. 20 wrap date.
“I’ve always focused on my work and that absorbs my brain; it doesn’t matter what’s happened to my wife, my children, and politics,” he remarked, according to a press release. “I’ll probably drop dead in the middle of setting up a sequence.”
Shawn, who has starred in several Allen productions (including Manhattan and Radio Days), further praised his longtime collaborator and friend.
“He discovered me and there’s a special magic about filming with him once again; it’s something very beautiful,” Shawn explained. “It’s his dream and we walk through that dream.”
Though Allen’s last project, A Rainy Day in New York, remains unreleased, the filmmaker released a trailer for the project on his Facebook page earlier this year. Amazon still retains the rights to distribute the film domestically, though THR indicates a distributor called Lucky Red intends to release it in Europe this fall.
Farrow’s allegations resurfaced around the time A Rainy Day in New York finished filming, prompting stars Timothée Chalamet and Rebecca Hall to donate their salaries for working on the film to different charities; Hall’s went to the Time’s Up movement against sexual harassment and abuse, while Chalamet split his between Time’s Up, The LGBT Center in New York, and RAINN (Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network). Selena Gomez, who also appeared in the film, also reportedly made a donation to Time’s Up that an anonymous source told PEOPLE “far exceeded” her earnings from the film.
Rifkin’s Festival — a release date for which has yet to be announced — also stars Oscar-winning actor Christoph Waltz, Sergi Lopez, Elena Anaya, and Louis Garrel, and will be shot by cinematographer Vittorio Storaro.