Venice Film Festival Gets Bad Press for Roman Polanski Inclusion and Lack of Female Directors
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After the unveiling of 21-strong competition selection drew much criticism, artistic director Alberto Barbera stresses half of the competing films in the Horizons category are directed by women.

AceShowbiz - Venice Film Festival bosses have been attacked for including Roman Polanski and only two women filmmakers in competition at this year's event.

Artistic director Alberto Barbera revealed a 21-strong competition selection on Thursday (July 25), but it features only two women directors, Haifaa Al Mansour and Shannon Murphy.

Barbera stressed that half of the films in competition in the festival's Horizons category are directed by women and that the overall line-up features a number of movies with women characters at their heart, but that hasn't appeased the critics, who have condemned the decision not to include more female filmmakers - while making a place for accused rapist, Polanski, who is in exile in Europe after fleeing the U.S. following a sex crime in the late 1970s.

Author Melissa Silverstein, who is the founder of campaign group Women and Hollywood, has tweeted, "1 rapist. 2 women directions in competition at Venice. What else am I missing?"

Venice Film Festival Line Sparks Backlash for Roman Polanski Inclusion and Lack of Female Directors

And top U.K. journalist Anita Singh adds, "Two women directors out of 21, and the red carpet rolled out for Roman Polanski. Great work, Venice."

Venice Film Festival Line Sparks Backlash for Roman Polanski Inclusion and Lack of Female Directors

Barbera has addressed Polanski's inclusion, insisting the filmmaker's latest project, "An Officer and a Spy", is a terrific movie and shows the director "at the top of his game."

"He is one of the last great masters of European cinema, and he's more than 80. At his age, he's able to make a film that is an extraordinary reconstruction of a historical event," Barbera says.

Polanski was arrested and charged with drugging and raping a 13-year-old girl at a Hollywood party. He pleaded guilty to unlawful sex with a minor and he has been a fugitive of the U.S. ever since.

The filmmaker's new movie is an early frontrunner for the festival's top prize, alongside Steven Soderbergh's financial thriller "The Laundromat" and Joaquin Phoenix's turn as Batman's top nemesis in "Joker".

The festival runs from 28 August to 7 September.

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