The Saturday-night premiere of Luca Guadagnino’s Suspiria remake at the Venice Film Festival was already a big deal to film aficionados, but one minor player just did his part to make it a focal point for the #MeToo movement and its detractors. Italian casting director turned filmmaker Luciano Silighini Garagnani walked the red carpet wearing a T-shirt in poor taste that read, “Harvey Weinstein is innocent,” with a picture of the disgraced producer.
It is no coincidence that Garagnani wore the shirt at this event, as the original Suspiria was directed by Dario Argento, father of Asia Argento, one of the first high-profile actresses to accuse Weinstein of raping her. (Argento is also facing her own controversy, following allegations that she sexually assaulted then-17-year-old actor Jimmy Bennett in 2013.)
According to the Hollywood Reporter, Garagnani is a supporter of former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, the media mogul who was convicted of paying an underage prostitute for sex, and gave money to the Donald Trump campaign. Garagnani is making a biopic about Berlusconi, and Paolo Riva, the actor attached to play the right-wing politician, was also on the red carpet pointing to the T-shirt.
Alberto Barbera, the artistic director of the film festival, told Deadline that the shirt was “a stupid move.” Barbera was already facing his own backlash for having only one female-directed movie at the festival, and critics were quick to connect these two controversies.
“It’s bad enough you have only 1 film directed by a women at the festival but to have this nutcase Luciano Silighini Garagnani wearing a ‘Weinstein is Innocent’ T Shirt on your red carpet is outrageous! #disrespectful,” read a tweet from production company Audacious Entertainment. Others on Twitter were equally upset by the move.
But if all of this was a ploy to troll the media and get people to search Garagnani’s name, it seems to have worked. Unfortunately, this publicity stunt can also harm victims of sexual violence, making them feel more reluctant to come forward about their experiences if they fear people can eventually turn their statements into jokes.
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