Topless activists disrupt Woody Allen concert in Germany

Woody Allen performing with his New Orleans Jazz Band at a concert in Elbphilharmonie, Hamburg, Germany, which was disrupted by activists.
Woody Allen performing with his New Orleans Jazz Band at a concert in Elbphilharmonie, Hamburg, Germany, which was disrupted by activists.PHOTO: NYTIMES

BERLIN (NYTIMES) - Two activists briefly disrupted a jazz concert that American film-maker Woody Allen was giving in Hamburg, Germany,  saying they wanted to draw attention to an accusation that he had sexually abused his adoptive daughter, Dylan Farrow, in 1992, when she was seven.

"Stop the culture of silence!" shouted the women, who were topless, as they stormed the stage of Hamburg's new concert hall, the Elbphilharmonie, as Allen was performing with his New Orleans Jazz Band on Tuesday (July 11).

Their torsos were painted with messages in the style of the women's rights organisation Femen, a collective that is devoted to overthrowing patriarchy and that is known for highly visible protests against sex tourism, abortion restrictions and female genital mutilation, among other issues.

Allen, 81, is a clarinet player. The concert programme listed him as one of seven musicians in the band, which it said had last visited Germany in 2011. "In their concerts they go on a long journey ranging from great jazz hymns and old spirituals to unknown blues and rags," the programme said.

The controversy surrounding the accusation against Allen has scarcely lessened even though it goes back a quarter-century.

In 1992, his marriage to actress Mia Farrow crumbled after it emerged that he was having an affair with her adoptive daughter Soon-Yi Previn. (He and Previn later married.) Farrow told the authorities she believed that her and Allen's adoptive daughter, Dylan Farrow, had been sexually molested.

The authorities in Connecticut, where the family was living at the time, examined the case but did not bring any charges. Experts at Yale New Haven Hospital found that Dylan Farrow had not been sexually abused. The prosecutor who oversaw the investigation has said that he had probable cause to file charges, but that he did not do so because a trial would have been exhausting and debilitating for what he described as the "child victim".

In February 2014, Dylan Farrow reiterated the accusation in an open letter to her father, who, in an op-ed essay in The New York Times, denied the accusation and said she had probably been coached by her mother. The protesters on Tuesday night attempted to read from the open letter, according to the German newspaper Bild.

Allen and his band did not seem particularly rattled by the disruption, as evidenced by video clips of the concert, posted on YouTube. After security personnel removed the women, the band continued with their concert, according to a local news publisher, SHZ.

Later, Allen issued a short statement calling the protest "stupid", SHZ reported. He has declined interview requests about the case, and said in his 2014 essay that it was "my final word on this entire matter". Femen, founded in Ukraine and now based in Paris, has staged disruptive protests at St Peter's Square in the Vatican, at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, and at the Grand Mosque of Paris, among other places.