‘Sparta’ pulled from TIFF amid accusations of impropriety involving children on set

TORONTO – A film involving child actors in Romania has been pulled from the Toronto International Film Festival amid accusations of impropriety on set.

A note on the TIFF website states Ulrich Seidl’s film “Sparta” has been withdrawn and that ticket holders will be contacted directly with more information.

The film was to make its world premiere in Toronto on Friday afternoon but an emailed statement from the TIFF press office said allegations in the German news outlet Der Spiegel prompted it to cancel those plans.

“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,” TIFF said in a statement emailed Friday.

“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.”

Der Spiegel published a story last week in which some young cast members, parents and crew allege local child non-actors were exposed to violence and nudity on set. It includes a statement from Seidl’s lawyer stating that no child was filmed naked or in a sexualized situation.

A statement on Seidl’s website includes the same response, and describes the Der Spiegel article as “a distorted picture that in no way corresponds to the facts.”

The allegations have not been independently verified by The Canadian Press. A request for comment from the film’s international sales agent was not immediately returned.

The film is an Austria, France and Germany co-production and is described as the story of a man in his 40s who seeks a fresh start in the hinterland of Romania but is confronted with “a truth he has long suppressed.”

“Inwardly and secretly he fights against his pedophile inclination,” Seidl’s statement says of the character.

The Austrian-born filmmaker is no stranger to controversy, and his previous films have explored subjects regarded as dark, grotesque and disturbing.

Before directing narrative feature films, Seidl was known for documentaries including 1995’s “Animal Love,” about the intimate relationships of Austrian pet owners, which a Variety review described as a “repellent but utterly compulsive sleazefest.”

According to a biography on the website of his international distributor, co-production Office, Seidl studied at the Vienna Film Academy where his short documentary “The Ball” in 1982 “almost led to his expulsion from film school, both for the film’s ‘morally and ethically dubious’ content — it was seen to be mocking of its subjects — and also for its form: Seidl was accused of presenting the film unedited.”

Seidl’s work has also won acclaim — the 2003 film “Jesus, You Know” won best documentary at the Czech film festival Karlovy Vary and his feature-length fiction 2001 debut, “Dog Days,” won the Grand Special Jury Prize at the Venice Film Festival.

The Toronto International Film Festival runs through Sept. 18.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 9, 2022.


Conversations are opinions of our readers and are subject to the Code of Conduct. The Star does not endorse these opinions.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.