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'Italy's Weinstein': Ten women accuse filmmaker Fausto Brizzi of sexual harassment

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'Italy's Weinstein': Ten women accuse filmmaker Fausto Brizzi of sexual harassment
Fausto Brizzi on set in 2013. Photo: Giuseppe Petitto/Wikimedia Commons.
10:50 CET+01:00
At least ten women have accused Italian filmmaker Fausto Brizzi of sexual harassment.

Brizzi, one of Italy’s most prolific writers and directors of the past 20 years, is accused of making unwanted sexual advances that ranged from giving unsolicited massages to stripping off naked and in some cases, using physical force.

In a statement via his lawyer, Brizzi, 48, categorically denied having any non-consensual sexual relations.

The allegations surfaced on an Italian TV show, Le Iene – The Hyenas – that aired on the Italia 1 channel on Sunday night.

According to its host, actor-turned-presenter Dino Giarrusso, ten of 30 women he interviewed about sexual harassment in the Italian film industry made claims against Brizzi.

They described a strikingly similar pattern, Giarrusso said: an invitation to a private location on the pretence of doing an audition, followed by insistent sexual advances.

Different women described Brizzi undressing in front of them, attempting to remove their clothes, forcing them to lie down next to him, trying to make them touch his penis or masturbating in front of them.

Most of the women spoke to the show anonymously, with the exception of Clarissa Marchese, a former Miss Italy, and model Alessandra Guilia Bassi.

Asked why they hadn’t made their allegations sooner, several interviewees said they felt ashamed or feared they wouldn’t be believed. Others said they didn’t have the means to fight Brizzi in court or that they had been advised by entertainment industry insiders not to take legal action.

The filmmaker did not respond to requests for comment, according to Giarrusso. In a statement issued by his lawyer on Sunday night, Brizzi said that he was disturbed to learn of the allegations but asserted “calmly and from now onwards, that never in my life have I had non-consensual or forced relations”.

Brizzi is best known for his comedies, including the award-winning 2006 coming-of-age film Notte prima degli esami (Night Before the Exams).

The allegations against him come after Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein was accused of sexual harassment and assault by dozens of women, including the Italian actor and director Asia Argento.

Since going public with her story, Argento said the ensuing backlash against her in the Italian media had prompted her to leave Italy.

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