Fantastic Fest Programmer Quits Over Rehiring of Controversial Blogger Devin Faraci
"I had no advance knowledge of this decision nor knowledge that Devin was contributing to the program guide," says the outgoing director of international programming, who stepped down over fest owner Tim League's announcement that he wanted to give the writer, accused of sexual assault, a "second chance."
A lead programmer at Fantastic Fest has resigned in response to the revelation on Tuesday that Alamo Drafthouse CEO Tim League has quietly rehired movie blogger Devin Faraci as a copywriter for the company 10 months after being accused of sexual assault.
Todd Brown, the Toronto-based director of international programming for the Drafthouse-owned science fiction and horror festival, announced his decision on Facebook shortly before midnight on Tuesday.
"I would like to be very clear," Brown wrote, "that despite over a decade of work as the director of international programming at Fantastic Fest, I had no advance knowledge of this decision nor knowledge that Devin was contributing to the program guide. I am still processing my feelings both about this decision and the fact that I — among others — was not consulted in the making of it."
Brown was not the only Drafthouse employee dismayed at Faraci's continued involvement at the Austin, Texas-based company, which oversees the popular Alamo Drafthouse cinema chain, the Drafthouse Releasing distribution label, and popular film-fandom website Birth.Movies.Death, where Faraci had been the top editor before resigning over the controversy.
League is also owner of Mondo, a popular movie memorabilia retailer, and co-founder of the new film shingle Neon, which made a splashy deal this week at the Toronto International Film Festival with the $5 million acquisition of I, Tonya.
Another programmer at the company who focused on the Austin market tells The Hollywood Reporter that he quit last March after seven years with the company, with the handling of the Faraci incident — which he says was falsely characterized in League's statement — being a "significant factor" in his decision.
"I find the statement to be very disingenuous on Tim's part because there was never any question of whether Devin would be given that opportunity. It wasn't offered after a period of growth and change. Devin just very rapidly moved into his current copywriting/editing job after stepping down from Birth.Movies.Death.," says the former employee, who asked not to be identified by name.
He continues: "Devin's new position was not initially announced internally so it's difficult for me to say with exact certainty when he began in it. But it was clear he was around, being cc'd on emails and such, within a month of his leaving BMD. After a number of employees expressed concern/outrage, an internal announcement was made much in the same spirit of Tim's Facebook post, that he was 'doing the work' and deserved forgiveness and a second chance. … I don't feel that a single month or less is long enough to properly reflect on, atone for and change such long-standing behaviors."
The former Drafthouse programmer adds that he was once censured for "publicly calling out" Faraci on Facebook for an essay defending Woody Allen in the wake of daughter Dylan Farrow's 2014 essay in The New York Times accusing her father of molesting her at a young age.
"I was censured by the Alamo and had to sign a letter acknowledging that if I made criticisms like that in the future it would be grounds for dismissal. These sorts of issues were meant to be addressed internally," he says.
And the fallout continues: a Vancouver-based writer revealed in a Facebook thread that she approached League about being sexually harassed by Faraci shortly after the sexual assault claims were made.
"I sent him a lengthy email detailing what happened," the woman writes. "He replied to me that he was sorry, and that he hoped I could keep my disclosure private."
She included a screengrab of League's response. "All this went down in the middle of my vacation (first class problems, I know...)," he writes. "As I'm sure you know, Devin has stepped down. Thanks for sharing your story and I'm sorry to hear about this experience. I've been talking to Devin lately and he is going through some very serious soul-searching right now."
"I'd appreciate it if you kept this dialogue between us," he closes the correspondence. "We're now trying to move forward with the BMD brand, but I did want to get back to your personally. Cheers."
Faraci's accuser reacted to the controversy as well, tweeting in response to calls for a boycott of the festival: "Maybe go and feel emboldened to demand more of your community." But she had far harsher words for League and Faraci.
"I've got too many good things going on in my life to let this break my stride too much but FUCK devin faraci & tim league," she wrote. "I was (and am!) willing to believe that people can learn, change, and grow, and don't believe in lost causes...but compassion without boundaries and accountability is a form of enabling."
Sept. 13, 1:45 pm Updated to remove the name of woman who accused Faraci of sexual harassment.
Sept. 13, 2:00 pm Updated to include Twitter comments from Faraci's original sex-assault accuser.