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“The show must go on,” Silvia Bizio told The Hollywood Reporter on Tuesday, speaking by phone from the town of Ostuni in southern Italy, where Allora Fest, a new film festival led by the veteran Italian journalist in partnership with the Italian art critic Sol Costales Doulton, had just wrapped its first day.
Roughly 48 hours earlier, Oscar-winning filmmaker Paul Haggis, a key collaborator in the planning of Allora Fest, was arrested in Ostuni after a British woman told authorities that Haggis had sexually assaulted her. (The writer-director-producer has previously faced four other accusations of sexual assault in the United States.) Haggis’ Italian lawyer, Michele Laforgia, has declared that Haggis is “completely innocent.”
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Haggis helped to recruit a number of Hollywood A-listers to Allora Fest, and was set to moderate a series of master classes, as well. He also lined up both his son, James Haggis, an assistant director, and his daughter, Alissa Haggis, a screenwriter, for master classes of their own (the latter in tandem with the screenwriter Amanda Moresco, the daughter of Bobby Moresco, with whom Haggis shared a best original screenplay Oscar for Crash).
At the time of Haggis’ arrest, his aforementioned relatives had already arrived in Ostuni; however, a decision was made by the festival that their master classes will not be moving forward. “We removed them from active participation,” Bizio, a longtime and respected member of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, tells THR, adding that she and Doulton have stepped in to moderate the master classes that were to be handled by Haggis himself.
Edward Norton and Alfre Woodard honored their commitments to participate in master classes Tuesday, and others set to attend the fest, which runs through June 26, include Oliver Stone, Jeremy Irons, Jon Hamm, Matt Dillon and Marisa Tomei.
As for Haggis, who is reportedly under house arrest at a hotel in Ostuni? “It’s not that he’s been ‘uninvited,'” Bizio explained. “Legally, he cannot participate. And honestly, between now and the 26th, I doubt very much this will be resolved.”
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