In “Allen v. Farrow,” the four-part docuseries that premiered on HBO Sunday night time, documentarians Kirby Dick, Amy Ziering and Amy Herdy have tackled an particularly daunting and divisive topic, even for them. The filmmakers behind the documentaries “The Hunting Ground,” “The Invisible War” and “On the Record,” have investigated Dylan Farrow’s 1992 allegations that her father, Woody Allen, sexually abused her when she was 7 years previous.
Dylan Farrow’s harrowing accusations performed out in courtroom throughout the lead-up to the vicious custody battle between Allen and his ex-partner Mia Farrow — and daily, they have been additionally splashed on the pages of the New York Post. Simultaneously, Allen’s then-newly revealed sexual relationship with Soon-Yi Previn, Farrow’s older daughter, ensured the tabloid press was absolutely engaged, one thing Allen weaponized in opposition to Mia Farrow, whom he painted as a manipulative hysteric. In “Allen v. Farrow,” she talks on digicam for the primary time about what she went by means of.

In the aftermath of the custody battle, which Mia Farrow received (to say the least), the allegations in opposition to Allen have been typically willfully forgotten. His singular profession as a writer-director continued unabated, with a parade of A-list actors — from Cate Blanchett to Penelope Cruz — signing as much as star in his motion pictures, and sometimes being rewarded by the Academy for it. In 2014, Dylan Farrow reasserted her claims in an open letter revealed on Nicholas Kristof’s New York Times weblog, calling out those that labored with him in private, direct phrases. But once more, folks continued to do enterprise with Allen— till the #MeToo motion of 2017, spurred partially by Ronan Farrow’s New Yorker investigation into Harvey Weinstein’s crimes, as soon as once more revived Dylan’s story (which hasn’t modified since she advised her mom what she says her father did to her almost 30 years in the past). “Wonder Wheel,” Allen’s 2017 providing, was the final of his movies to get a significant theatrical launch within the United States.
“Allen v. Farrow” goals to provide the total image of what occurred between Dylan, Mia and Allen. Ziering, Dick and Herdy use never-before-seen house motion pictures from Mia Farrow that she shot, together with of Dylan at age 7 saying what Allen allegedly did to her. There are additionally audio recordings the general public has by no means heard that Mia made throughout cellphone conversations with Allen because the custody battle loomed (he was taping her too). In addition to Dylan, a number of different of Mia Farrow’s kids — Ronan Farrow, and Fletcher and Daisy Previn — additionally gave interviews to “Allen v. Farrow,” as did household associates and individuals who had labored on the investigation.
Allen, 85, who has all the time angrily denied any wrongdoing in opposition to Dylan, didn’t take part. His facet is offered by means of previous interviews; press conferences; the surprisingly intimate house motion pictures by which he seems (typically uncomfortably hugging and kissing Dylan); and in snippets from his audiobook studying of his 2020 memoir, “Apropos of Nothing.” (A consultant for Allen didn’t reply to Variety’s request for remark, however on Sunday night time, Allen issued a press release by means of his sister and producer, Letty Aronson, calling “Allen v. Farrow” a “hatchet job riddled with falsehoods.”)

In an interview with Variety, co-directors Ziering and Dick, and Herdy, the docuseries’ investigative producer, delved into the primary episode of “Allen v. Farrow,” and previewed its subsequent episodes. (Spoilers abound, so be warned.)
“It’s a narrative all of us suppose we knew,” Ziering mentioned. “But we didn’t.”
Can you speak in regards to the origins of “Allen v. Farrow,” and the way you satisfied Dylan Farrow— after which the remainder of the Farrows — to take part?
Amy Ziering: Projects discover us, we don’t precisely discover tasks, per se. We have been casting a large internet, speaking to ladies within the wake of #MeToo, and we thought we’d do some sort of collection and there is perhaps a Hollywood portion. And Amy Herdy was like, “Maybe for the Hollywood portion, we must always interview Dylan Farrow.” Amy managed to have Dylan agree. At that time, we weren’t making this mission, however that’s initially how we fell upon the interview with Dylan.
Kirby and I, and Amy, have been like, “There’s a lot extra right here that none of us knew about. And how is it that none of us knew about it?” And that piqued our curiosity, but it surely actually piqued Amy’s curiosity. And as Amy dug and dug and dug, she got here up discovering all this new materials, and bringing it to us.

How did you pivot to understanding you have been going to do a documentary about this particular factor?
Kirby Dick: Information about proof began coming, and this began making us understand there’s a lot of this story that hasn’t been advised. That mixed with the non-public story that Dylan had advised —  not solely what occurred when she was little, but in addition how she needed to dwell with having the tradition in some ways denying her story. We realized we had an epic story on our palms.
At what level did you uncover the trove of archival issues that Mia Farrow had?
Amy Herdy: I first began having conversations with Dylan in February of 2018. That fall was after I was first launched to Mia. I spent plenty of time rummaging by means of her home. She was very well mannered, and mentioned, “Feel free to go searching. I’m not going to do an interview, ever!” She had bookshelves in every single place, not simply lined with books, but in addition with these house motion pictures and picture albums. Then she casually talked about that there is perhaps some bins within the basement, so all the way down to the basement, I went. There have been just some disparate courtroom objects, and a few of these have been the audiocassettes.
There have been photocopies of pictures of Woody Allen with the youngsters as they have been rising up that had been entered as an exhibit within the custody trial. I assumed that was fascinating, as a result of he had maintained that he had stored such a distance from them. There was the affidavit of when he adopted Dylan — that adoption went by means of in December of 1991. And there was his affidavit, which is a sworn assertion, testifying that he and Mia have been in an in depth, dedicated and persevering with relationship. A month later, these pictures have been discovered of Soon-Yi — the bare pictures. So that was a seismic disconnect.
Ziering: The old style cassettes, Amy managed to claw again from the jaws of dying, and referred to as us and mentioned, “Oh, my God! This is Woody and Mia speaking contemporaneous as these occasions have been occurring!” People hear these within the subsequent episodes, and it’s fairly jaw-dropping.
They’re surprising. Something else surprising within the first episode was that Woody Allen would make Dylan lie in mattress with him when he was in his underwear, and that Mia and even somebody exterior the household, Priscilla Gilman, had walked in on that.
Ziering: We talked to some consultants as we have been doing our analysis, they usually have been saying these are traditional grooming patterns. It’s this habits that proper at first appears unseemly perhaps, however perhaps OK. But if you happen to’re not an skilled on this enviornment, you don’t know acknowledge it. And the transgressions are delicate, they usually occur incrementally, which you see in Episode 1 — [Dylan] sucking [Allen’s] thumb. It’s these slight transgressions — of non-public area, of acceptable habits — that you simply normalize the kid to.
Can you discuss why you felt it mandatory to determine that Woody Allen is an iconic filmmaker with all of the speaking heads?
Dick: For a youthful technology who hasn’t grown up so fully together with his work, I feel it was necessary to try this. It was additionally, I feel, necessary to acknowledge his accomplishments. It’s truthful; he has completed an important deal. But additionally, to point out that how revered and revered he was — by society, by critics, by the business. It was that respect, that reverence that really gave him plenty of alternative to create the spin that he did in a while.
Ziering: It’s about a lot larger themes: It’s in regards to the energy of celeb, the impunity of privilege. The impunity that the ability of celeb can confer on folks. The method {that a} celeb grooms all of us, to some extent, to be blind to sure non-public acts which may not accord with what we understand their public persona to be.

Woody Allen and Mia Farrow on a household trip.
Globe Photos/mediapunch/Shutterstock

Mia says on the finish of the collection that she’s nonetheless terrified of him, and about what he’ll do as soon as he sees or hears about what’s within the documentary. Have you considered that each for the Farrows’ sake and for the mission’s?
Herdy: I feel that’s knee-jerk PTSD on her half, and understandably so, proper? When you attempt to ask her to call what she fears that he’ll do, it’s, “Well, he might do something.”
Dick: He has carried out so much…
Ziering: She’s been by means of so much. She was publicly excoriated for many years — she has rightful trepidation, she has not been handled kindly by the press. It’s been offered as “he mentioned/she mentioned” the place it’s actually only a “he mentioned” narrative again and again and time and again. And she hasn’t had a voice in it. I imply, I’d be scared too if I have been her.
And I actually suppose all of us owe her and Dylan and all of the Farrows and everybody who spoke with us a societal debt. For their braveness and for his or her skill to beat their fears and say, “You know what? We hope this helps different folks.”
Ronan is clearly a vastly completed journalist together with his personal observe document of investigations into sexual assault and lots of different issues. Was he supplying you with any enter alongside the way in which from his perspective on the film?
Ziering: No, it is a very impartial investigation. It was the opposite — identical to Mia, I wish to be completely and patently clear that they have been all extraordinarily trepidatious and never desperate to take part. What helped them overcome that concern and agree extraordinarily reluctantly to giving us a minimal period of time in these interviews was that they felt that we have been really uncovering issues that had not ever been revealed to the general public.
Herdy: And issues that they didn’t know. It’s revealed in Episode 1 that Dylan was put into remedy when she was 5 for being shy and unhappy and withdrawn. Which we all know now in 2021 are traditional signs that one thing is occurring with that baby that’s very, very flawed. They didn’t acknowledge it again then.
She disclosed twice to her therapist that she had a secret. And it wasn’t mentioned in a cheerful method. So this was a woman who was clearly troubled. And this was two years earlier than she got here ahead with any sort of allegation about him molesting her on the house in Connecticut.
I used to be going to ask you about that. What do you suppose that secret was?
Herdy: I don’t wish to assume, as a result of I don’t assume something. But if I have been a therapist treating a baby, I feel I might have pursued it. And I feel I might have knowledgeable the kid’s mom. She didn’t inform Mia; Mia didn’t know.
Ziering: When we talked to consultants, they ceaselessly say that one of many issues predators do is they are saying, “This is our secret.” And that’s one of many traditional ways in which predators get kids to not speak, proper? So when Amy uncovered that, which was new data that Dylan had really gone to a therapist two years earlier than this incident, it’s fairly important. And revelatory.
Is the implication, then, that he was molesting her already?
Ziering: You ought to draw your individual conclusions. What we confirmed it all through was, as I mentioned earlier, there have been these incremental behaviors: sleeping in mattress with underwear, sucking the thumb. Experts will let you know there’s an incremental transgression of boundaries in order that every thing turns into normalized while you really do extra profound violations. But they’re all violations in my ebook.

Dylan Farrow
Courtesy of HBO

Was there anybody that you simply wished to interview who wouldn’t speak?
Herdy: Well, there was any individual that we discovered, and it was too late. And it was a kind of forehead-slapping moments. Allison Stickland: who was the nanny who really was an eyewitness to habits between Woody Allen and Dylan, who testified within the custody trial and gave a sworn assertion to police that she walked in and Woody had his face in Dylan’s bare lap.
I despatched a snail mail letter, a really fastidiously worded one, and mentioned, “If you’re Allison Stickland who was a nanny in Connecticut, I might like to have a dialog with you,” and put my cellphone quantity in it. And apparently, she bought the letter and debated it for a number of weeks. And then she despatched me a textual content message the day after we locked, and mentioned, “Sure, I’ll speak to you.” And it was excruciatingly painful. But we did speak to her for a podcast. She’s superb. And she nonetheless remembers every thing very vividly.
The collection makes an argument about motion pictures similar to “Manhattan,” drawing a direct line between what Allen was placing on display and his alleged off-screen habits. HBO Max at the moment has 5 Woody Allen/Mia Farrow collaborations to stream. What do you consider that?
Ziering: We discuss that in Episode 4; we go into depth in regards to the selections folks need to make about consuming product. It is one thing that many individuals discuss fighting. And that’s additionally why we wish folks to suppose and mirror on that.

I feel there’s plenty of artwork on the market with sophisticated biographical backgrounds. We invite folks to make their very own selections.
What would you like viewers to be desirous about after they’ve watched all 4 episodes? What would you like folks to remove from it?
Ziering: It’s in regards to the energy that celeb confers on people, and the way in which that it will possibly blind us all to uncomfortable truths.
It’s additionally an actual and intense meditation and reflection on incest, which was one of many the reason why to do that mission — it’s the third rail. Now #MeToo has occurred, but it surely hasn’t but occurred for survivors of these sorts of crimes in their very own family. That has its personal set of horrors and complexities that we actually want to have a look at. And society can be so much more healthy if we did.
Dick: It turns into this psychological horror story, actually, within the first episode. To see the angle of a kid and a companion when it’s slowly dawning on them that one thing just isn’t proper with an individual that’s deep contained in the household is known as a household psychological horror story that I feel is extraordinarily cinematic, and offers you a perspective into what many individuals in households the place incest is going on.
Do you are feeling like Dylan will lastly have been heard after that is throughout?
Ziering: Our hope is that individuals lastly see the reality.
This interview has been edited and condensed.