Italian director Luciano Silighini Garagnani attended the world premiere of Luca Guadagnino's Suspiria dressed in sneakers, faded jeans, and T-Shirt reading "Weinstein is Innocent" with a photo of disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein under his blazer. Next to him, actor Paolo Riva was also all smiles, pointing to the T-Shirt in what looked to be a PR stunt.
Riva is attached to play Berlusconi in Garagnani's upcoming project about the former Italian Prime Minister, based on the as-yet-unpublished biography, One of Us.
Weinstein, 66, is currently facing charges including sexual assault, abuse and sexual misconduct in New York, with other open investigations in Los Angeles and London. If charged he could serve life in prison.
Some activists are fearful that Italy's #MeToo movement has triggered further backlash against women. The Venice Film Festival has been accused of failing to do enough to address the issue of gender disparity (only one film in this year's competition was directed by a women).
The festival recently changed tune, this week signing an agreement targeting gender parity in the future. The pledge — initiated at Cannes by French organization 5050×2020, and so far signed by a handful of high-profile festivals — promises transparency in the festival selection process, as well as the collection and publication of statistics on the number of films submitted and the gender of the filmmakers. But Venice appeared to sign the pledge begrudgingly, saying that the charter only re-confirmed policies the festival already had in place.
The failure of guards to remove Garagnani from the red carpet is the last kind of attention the festival needs right now, especially when female activist groups weren't given a carpet to march on as they were in Cannes for the 5050 x 2020 movement. Instead, female filmmakers took a group photo outside of the Casino after the signing.
"It's not a controversy," Jury president Guillermo del Toro said at the opening press conference, "It's a real problem we have in the culture in general."