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“Right now our primary focus should be taking the opportunity to listen carefully and deeply to the many victims who are now finally getting the chance to be heard,” James Schamus, the filmmaker and former head of Focus Features, says of the recent slew of sexual abuse allegations on the part of Harvey Weinstein.
“But,” Schamus continues, “soon, very soon, we need to move past our fascination and horror at the pathologies of this particular predator, and ask, just how is it possible that, for example, a corporate Human Resources department could, for three decades, in essence preside over a factory of abuse?”
Schamus, like Weinstein, has been a fixture on New York’s indie film scene for decades. He and David Linde, a former Miramax executive, ran Good Machine, a production and distribution company, before launching Focus in 2002. Focus, like Weinstein’s Miramax and later The Weinstein Co., distributed and occasionally produced independent and specialty films like The Pianist and Lost in Translation.
Linde left to become co-chair of Universal in 2006, while Schamus remained with the company into 2013, a tenure during which he personally received Oscar nominations as a producer (Brokeback Mountain) as well as a writer and songwriter (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon).
Clearly stunned by the magnitude of offenses allegedly committed by his longtime crosstown rival, Schamus, 58, concludes with a stern warning: “This is the story of one predator and his many victims; but it is also a story about an overwhelming systemic enabling, and until that story is fully told we will fall far short of stopping future depredations on a similar scale.”
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