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Austrian director Ulrich Seidl’s Sparta, a drama about an Austrian man who is a non-offending pedophile and teaches judo to boys in Romania, has been pulled by the Toronto Film Festival ahead of its world premiere on Friday at Bell Lightbox.
“This film has been withdrawn from festival. We apologize for any inconvenience. Ticket holders will receive an email from TIFF customer relations with more information,” the Toronto film festival said in a statement on its website.
Pulling the drama follows an investigation in Germany by Der Spiegel that alleges children were exposed to violence and nudity on the film set.
“Der Spiegel reporting has found that Seidl is alleged to have intentionally left the underage amateur actors, who were between the ages of nine and 16 at the time of filming, in the dark about the fact that the film addresses pedophilia. During film shoots, they were allegedly confronted with alcoholism, violence and nudity without sufficient preparation and adequate support,” the magazine investigation states.
The Toronto film fest said it had acted after new information about the film via the Der Spiegel story had been received. “A recent investigative article published in the German magazine Der Spiegel has raised concerns that official guidelines established to protect children and keep their guardians informed when making films were not followed,” the fest said in a statement received by THR.
“Sparta had been scheduled to premiere in TIFF’s Contemporary World Cinema section, but given these allegations, we will no longer present the film. We consider Mr. Seidl to be an important contemporary filmmaker and we look forward to further clarity being brought to the issues of the film’s production raised by Der Spiegel,” TIFF added.
One of the characters in Sparta, Ewald, played by Georg Friedrich, runs judo courses for children in Romania and while doing so discovers his pedophilic tendencies, according to the German magazine.
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