The long-awaited documentary ‘Allen V. Farrow’, divided into four parts, opens on Sunday, February 21, at 11 pm, on HBO. The series reports and analyzes the sexual abuse charge against Woody Allen, showing interviews with Mia Farrow, Dylan Farrow and Ronan Farrow, as well as family friend Carly Simon, prosecutor Frank Maco and other witnesses who, for the first time, were willing to speak publicly about the case.
Allen is famously known for having a relationship and later marrying Mia Farrow’s college-age daughter Soon-Yi Previn. Around that time, he was also accused of sexually abusing the couple’s daughter, Dylan Farrow, who was 7 years old when the accusations came to light. Allen has denied abusing both Previn and Dylan Farrow.
“I worshiped him,” Dylan Farrow says of Allen in the film. “He was so funny, and he made me feel so special. That’s where things get really, really complicated.”
The documentary gathers testimonies, home recordings and unpublished audios, in addition to legal documents and police evidence. ‘Allen V. Farrow’ details the situation involving Dylan, Allen’s daughter with Mia Farrow who was 7 at the time, the child custody process and the disclosure of Allen’s relationship with Soon-Yi, also Farrow’s daughter , and shows the controversial consequences of the case in the following years.
Director Kirby Dick says an interview Amy Ziering did with Dylan Farrow about the #MeToo movement a few years ago convinced him to dig into the story again. At first, he questioned if there was anything new for the public to learn beyond the myriad of news coverage throughout the years.
“But Amy [Ziering] did the first interview with Dylan Farrow and that interview was so powerful, so strong,” he says. “It became very apparent that the whole story wasn’t being told.”
The documentary explores power, our understanding of what family sexual abuse can look like, how a child can articulate abuse, and how women who make accusations of abuse are depicted. Allen is a powerful man and at the time, he was the toast of the town in New York City. Mia Farrow was painted as a vindictive, hysterical ex-lover who coached her daughter to tell untrue stories of sexual abuse.
Reluctant to agree to an interview, Mia Farrow said no to producer Amy Herdy several times until Dylan Farrow convinced her mother to talk, director Ziering says. Mia Farrow was scared and showed up to the interview wearing a black sweatshirt, so Ziering offered her blouse to the actress.
“All the narratives we heard: She’s vindictive. She’s the publicity hound. You know, she’s crazy,” Ziering says, “No, actually, she never wanted to speak and didn’t even have any kind of vanity going through her mind when she showed up in the interview.”
Dylan Farrow speaks candidly and introspectively in this film about her early childhood memories. She talks about the special attention she received from Allen, reading newspaper comments together every morning and going to her first Broadway musical with him.
But the documentary shows that it went beyond special treatment: Babysitters, friends, teachers and therapists say Allen had an intense focus on Dylan Farrow. Allen would isolate Dylan Farrow from the other children and demand to spend time alone with her, Dick says.