CANNES, France (Reuters) - Italian actress Asia Argento, who has accused movie mogul Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault, told the closing ceremony of the Cannes Film Festival there were abusers in the audience who had yet to be outed.
Argento, one of the women quoted in Ronan Farrow’s New Yorker article in October, said Weinstein raped her during the Cannes festival in 1997 when she was 21.
Weinstein has denied allegations of non-consensual sex, and a lawyer representing him said that Argento’s claims were completely false. Argento’s London-based agent, Steve Kenis, was not immediately available to provide further details.
“This festival was his hunting ground,” Argento said in a speech ahead of the awarding of the Palme d’Or and other prizes.
She said Weinstein, until this year a hugely influential presence at the festival, would never return, “shunned by a film community that once embraced him and covered up for his crimes”.
“Even tonight, sitting among you, there are those who still have to be held accountable for their conduct against women,” she said.
“You know who you are, but, most importantly, we know who you are, and we are not going to allow you to get away with it any longer,” she ended her speech, to applause.
Weinstein’s attorney in Italy, Filomena Cusano, was in Cannes as Argento spoke and said there was as much stunned silence in the hall as there was applause.
“The allegations by Ms. Argento are completely false. Mr. Weinstein had a consensual relationship with Ms. Argento, and she starred in Mr. Weinstein’s film B. Monkey in 1998, in which Argento was excellent, and she herself said was a fantastic role for her,” Cusano said in a statement.
“After that, she wrote a script for Mr. Weinstein about Italian director Vittorio De Sica that he wishes could have been produced. This is clearly a painful time for Ms. Argento, but it is a false narrative. Mr. Weinstein only wishes Ms. Argento well.”
Organizers of the festival, which began on May 9, set up a telephone hotline for victims of harassment, and several discussion groups addressed the issues of sexual abuse and the under-representation of women in the film business.
Reporting by Robin Pomeroy and Sarah Mils; Writing by Robin Pomeroy; Editing by Jon Boyle and Daniel Wallis