×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Harvey Weinstein Taps Trump’s Travel Ban for New ‘Lion’ Oscar Messaging

When it comes to awards season, Harvey Weinstein has a long history of tethering his contenders to the zeitgeist, or at least to a wider-ranging socio-political concern. And it usually happens in phase two, as campaigns begin to pivot toward a win.

For “Philomena” in early 2014, writer-star Steve Coogan and the film’s eponymous subject Philomena Lee were shuffled off to Rome for an audience with Pope Francis. They were there as representatives of the Philomena Project, which aims to raise public awareness in Ireland and around the world on the issue of forced and illegal adoptions and to help reunite families with the advancement of open records legislation in Ireland.

Weinstein himself hit the morning shows on behalf of “The Imitation Game” in early 2015, calling on the British government to pardon the thousands whose lives had been ruined with convictions under laws forbidding homosexuality, which was not decriminalized in the U.K. until 1967. He was even willing to give up his Commander of the Order of the British Empire designation to see it happen, he declared at the time.

And in early 2013, “Silver Linings Playbook” star Bradley Cooper and director David O. Russell put on a rather strained show of meeting with then-Vice President Joe Biden at the White House to discuss mental health issues. Because the lead character had bipolar disorder, you see.

Right on schedule this year, “Lion” is receiving similar treatment. An ad for the film in Thursday’s Los Angeles Times featured young actor Sunny Pawar, and it confronted the issue of Donald Trump’s travel ban on seven predominantly Muslim countries head-on. “It took an extraordinary effort to get 8-year-old actor Sunny Pawar a visa so that he could come to America for the very first time,” the ad reads. “Next year, that might not be an option.”

And like so many phase two campaigns, which tend to shift messaging to something more pointed — “Find Your Voice” for “The King’s Speech” comes to mind — this ad ties things together with a subtle nod to the immigration debate. “Remember where you came from,” it reads.

A follow-up placement enlisting quotes from the likes of Madeleine Albright and Salman Rushdie is set to run Friday.

Even when you can see through the effort — awards attention for these films equals box office potential, and “Lion” finally pulled the trigger on a wide release last weekend — the organic quality of this sort of messaging is impressive. You use what’s available to you in an Oscar campaign. Trump handed Weinstein an opportunity. It would be naive to assume he’d pass it up.

“Lion” is nominated for six Academy Awards, including best picture, best supporting actor (Dev Patel), best supporting actress (Nicole Kidman) and best adapted screenplay.

 

More Film

  • Nona

    Film Review: 'Nona'

    Twenty years and 12 features down the line, it’s still hard to peg the directorial sensibility of Michael Polish, with or without the presence of brother Mark as frequent co-writer and actor. His output has been all over the place, from early Lynchian quirkfests to the very middle-of-the-road inspirational dramedy “The Astronaut Farmer,” not to [...]

  • Pawel Pawlikowski "Cold War"

    Pawel Pawlikowski's 'Cold War' Wins for Best Film, Director at European Film Awards

    “Cold War,” Pawel Pawlikowski’s black-and-white romance set in the 1950s, scooped the prizes for best film, director and screenplay at the 31st edition of the European Film Awards on Saturday. “Cold War” star Joanna Kulig also won the award for best actress. Marcello Fonte, the star of Matteo Garrone’s “Dogman,” won for best actor. Armando Iannucci’s [...]

  • The Favourite Bohemian Rapsody Star is

    The Best Movie Scenes of 2018

    When we think back on a movie that transported us, we often focus on a great scene — or maybe the greatest scene — in it. It’s natural. Those scenes are more than just defining. They can be the moment that lifts a movie into the stratosphere, that takes it to the higher reaches of [...]

  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

    Box Office: 'Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse' Soars Toward $35-40 Million Debut

    “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” is swinging into theaters on a high note. Sony-Marvel’s latest output is launching to $42 million from 3,813 North American locations in its debut, though other more conservative estimates place that number at $35.5 million. The animated superhero story picked up $12.6 million on Friday, easily leading the pack for the weekend. [...]

  • Ventana Sur : Cinema226 Closes Four

    Cinema226 Announces Four Intl. Co-Productions, Hints at More (EXCLUSIVE)

    Mexico’s Cinema226, run by Marco Antonio Salgado and Sam Guillén, is driving into a raft of Mexico, Argentina and Spain co-productions, playing off the current vibrancy of Mexican film production funding and distribution outlets. Among the projects are titles which have been standouts at Ventana Sur’s Blood Window, the next film by Mexico-based Argentine filmmaker [...]

  • Ventana Sur Debates Gender Parity in

    Ventana Sur Debates Gender’s 50/50 in 2020 for Argentina Film Industry

    BUENOS AIRES — Despite recent gains, namely the equality pledge towards 50/50-2020 signed at the Mar del Plata Film Festival on Nov. 12, producer Magalí Nieva, pointed out that no representative from INCAA was present following the apparent resignation of its vice-president Fernando Juan Lima. “We are left without an interlocutor to discuss gender policies [...]

  • Ventana Sur Rocks with Sales, Mass

    Ventana Sur Rocks with Sales, Mass Attendance, Structural Growth

    BUENOS AIRES — Celebrating its 10th anniversary with a huge hike in attendance to over 4,000 accredited delegates, the 2018 Ventana Sur will go down in history on multiple counts: Sales and pick-ups on movies which combined social comment and entertainment value, increasingly the new foreign-language movie standard; new sections, led by a Proyecta co-production [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content