Global film and TV executives, including “Elizabeth” producer Alison Owen and “Shakespeare in Love” producer David Parfitt, have spoken out about Harvey Weinstein’s guilty verdict, calling it a “seismic” victory that will bring about immutable change.
Monday’s long-awaited outcome to the U.S. trial, which saw Weinstein convicted of sexual assault and third-degree rape, has been regarded as a landmark victory that will continue to transcend borders and impact women in the international industry.
Monumental Pictures boss Owen, who has produced the likes of “Suffragette” and “Jane Eyre,” worked with Weinstein across five films and, in 2017, broke her silence on his “sleazeball” behavior on set. Owen’s sister-in-law Laura Madden, a former Miramax employee, was one of the first women to go on the record for the New York Times’ ground-breaking investigation into Weinstein.
“When I heard the news yesterday, it felt like the world had turned on its axis,” Owen tells Variety. “Despite all the sound and fury, despite the bravery of all these women, including my own sister-in-law, I realized I still hadn’t expected this outcome.”
“You mean, Harvey Weinstein is actually going to be held accountable? He is going to jail? Those women have been believed, and affirmed? It felt seismic, incredible, and, yes, as though things (have) irrevocably changed — for once, for the better,” she says.
The U.S. case has always had global reverberations, particularly in the U.K., where Operation Kaguyak, a Weinstein-centered investigation into sexual assault allegations against 11 victims, is ongoing. In early 2018, the Time’s Up movement also crossed the pond, setting up a U.K. legal defense fund for those who have been harassed or abused at work.
Heather Rabbatts, chair of Time’s Up U.K., says, “Once you’ve opened the lid, things aren’t going to go back.”
“Now, as women come forward, they will be believed. Instead of that fight, there is a change in the atmosphere around all of this,” Rabbatts continues. “You can see it happen as you talk to the studios of companies, which now have guidance and support structures should anyone come forward. They recognize now that they need mechanisms in place so everyone is safe — that’s the shift.”
Elsewhere in the U.K., producer Parfitt, who worked with Weinstein on the Oscar-winning “Shakespeare in Love” and “My Week With Marilyn,” says there are “no tears” but “no celebrations, either.” In 2018, Parfitt accused Weinstein of physically attacking him during production on “My Week With Marilyn.”
“This is still an absolute tragedy for those women abused by Weinstein over many years, and I hope that every woman who suffered at his hands gets their day in court,” he says.
“I think we should now celebrate the numerous people at Miramax and TWC who managed to produce good work in spite of Weinstein, while admonishing those who allowed him to reign unchallenged for so long,” he adds.
Similarly, James Schamus, producer on the Julia Garner-led “The Assistant,” which follows a young graduate who falls victim to an abusive Weinstein-like entertainment mogul, says the industry remains culpable for the extent of his crimes.
“Harvey Weinstein is the one (who faces) going to jail, but the entire film business — all of us who have sustained and benefited from the hierarchies of power that allowed his crimes to continue and his victims to multiply — (are the ones) who were found guilty today,” he says.
“The Assistant” screened as part of the Berlin Film Festival, where news of the verdict hit Monday evening and was the talk of the fest on Tuesday.
Sandrine Bauer, a French producer who co-founded France’s 50/50 for 2020 advocacy group, which pushed Cannes to sign a gender parity pledge, says the verdict “validates the #MeToo movement as well as Time’s Up.”
“The women who took Weinstein down are so incredibly brave. They are creating a virtuous circle where other women who may feel powerless will be inspired to speak out — and will be heard.”
“In France, it took Adele Haenel’s testimony to start shaking things up because she had more power — being a big star in France — than the person she accused. This verdict marks the beginning of a real shift.”
Elsewhere at the festival, Rikke Ennis, former TrustNordisk boss and founder of sales banner REinvent, said Weinstein has “gotten what he deserved.”
Ennis worked with the producer in 2010 when she sold the rights to Swedish thriller “Snabba Cash” to TWC for the U.S., where it was adapted as “Easy Money.”
“(The verdict) shows we’ve entered a new era, and I hope this will be a game-changer where we will not see dominant men using their position to keep down women and do criminal things.”
Meanwhile, Nicolas Brigaud-Robert, co-founder of Paris-based “High Ground” sales agent Playtime, adds that the verdict is a salient reminder of the entire industry’s responsibility to “raise flags on abuses of power of any kind” going forward.
“The #MeToo movement will hopefully help the industry keep these types of abusive behaviors in check before they become criminal and normalize business relationships,” he adds.
“In our industry, like in any other, men and women deserve a working environment that can be both fun and safe. That is our collective responsibility.”
Nick Vivarelli and Leo Barraclough contributed to this report.