Drafthouse cuts ties with Fantastic Fest co-founder Harry Knowles

2:24 p.m Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2017 Local
Deborah Cannon
Fantastic Fest co-founder Harry Knowles is no longer associated with the Alamo Drafthouse, Drafthouse owner Tim League announced in an email Monday. (AMERICAN-STATESMAN 2008)

Midway through its signature film festival, Fantastic Fest, the Alamo Drafthouse has “severed all ties” with fest co-founder and Ain’t It Cool News founder/editor Harry Knowles after allegations of sexual misconduct, according to an email Drafthouse founder Tim League sent late Monday to Fantastic Fest attendees.

A story published by IndieWire last week accused Knowles of groping an Austin-area woman at Drafthouse events 17 years ago. Knowles denied the charges in the story and on Twitter.

The Austin Film Critics Association also announced via Twitter on Monday that its members had voted to remove Knowles from the group. (Note: Joe Gross and other Statesman movie writers are members of the critics association.)

This comes as the Drafthouse continues to deal with fallout after it was revealed Sept. 11 that Devin Faraci, who had resigned from the Drafthouse-owned Birth.Movies.Death last year after facing a groping accusation, had been working again at the company as an in-house writer.

League posted on social media an explanation of Faraci’s return to public life. But, noting that he was never consulted about this rehiring and that he objected to it, Fantastic Fest programmer Todd Brown quickly resigned in protest from the festival.

Faraci then cut ties with the Drafthouse, and League issued an apology, saying that he planned to meet with Drafthouse employees to discuss the situation.

In Monday’s email, League, who has not been at the festival this year, wrote: “On the festival front, in light of recent events and feedback we have gotten over the last few days, we have taken some first steps on the path to listening and ensuring that we create a safe, inclusive environment for our staff at both the theater and the festival as well as the community at large. I’ll be sharing more about this in the days and weeks to come.

“Moving forward, we have severed all ties with Harry Knowles and he is no longer affiliated with the company in any capacity. We are striving to better respond to allegations of sexual assault and harassment, and will take actions so those who work at the theater or attend as a guest are not made to feel unsafe.”

League also said the festival is creating a new board of directors headed up by longtime Drafthouse employee and Fantastic Fest programmer Kristin Bell.

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