Berlin Festival Boss Calls Harvey Weinstein Accusations, Cover-Up "Scandalous"

Arno Burgi/Newscom
Dieter Kosslick

Festival directors condemned Weinstein's actions, with Venice head Alberto Barbera saying Weinstein "used his position to perform extreme violence again women."

Berlin Film Festival director Dieter Kosslick has joined the growing ranks of industry executives who have had dealings with Harvey Weinstein and have condemned the Oscar-winning producer for his alleged history of sexual harassment and assault.

Kosslick has hosted Weinstein many times at the Berlinale, where Miramax and Weinstein Co. films have often enjoyed pride of place both in the festival's competition and at Berlin's European Film Market. Weinstein had the rare distinction of having back-to-back Berlin Festival opening night films with Chicago in 2003 and Cold Mountain in 2004.

But in an email statement sent to The Hollywood Reporter on Thursday, Kosslick condemned Weinstein's actions in no uncertain terms.

"The Berlinale condemns Harvey Weinstein's behavior. It is scandalous that his actions have been covered up for years," Kosslick's statement read. "We must thank the brave women who now have publicly come forward. Sadly, we have to be continually reminded of the fact that sexual abuse and sexual assault are criminal acts."

Kosslick's condemnation follows a similar statement by the Cannes Film Festival, whose director Thierry Fremaux has had a long professional and personal relationship with Harvey Weinstein. On Thursday Fremaux, in a joint statement with festival president Pierre Lescure, wrote they had been "dismayed to learn of the accusations of harassment and sexual violence recently leveled against Harvey Weinstein," and that his actions merited "only the clearest and most unequivocal condemnation." The statement concluded: "Our thoughts go out to the victims, to those who have had the courage to testify and to all the others. May this case help us once again to denounce all such serious and unacceptable practices."

And Venice chief Alberto Barbera said in a statement: "The behavior of Mr. Weinstein is unacceptable and shameful. It is even more inexcusable because it comes from a powerful man, who used his position to perform extreme violence again women. But we cannot forget that every day and all over the world, a lot of defenseless women are compelled to suffer similar humiliations and offenses. We can only truly hope that the disclosure of this tremendous case would help lead to a deep change in relationships between men and women." 

Weinstein was a regular guest at Venice Film Festival. According to a statement from one anonymous producer, the bar at the Excelsior Hotel was Weinstein's "playground," where he and then Italy's Miramax head Fabrizio Lombardo would set up shop waiting for girls to pass by. 

The Toronto Film Festival, another well-known haunt for Weinstein, also issued a statement condemning the film mogul's actions, while not mentioning him by name: "No woman should have to face sexual harassment," the statement read. "TIFF salutes the courage of all who speak up, and we commit to fostering a safe environment for women in film."

Mira Sorvino, one of the many actresses who have come forward with allegations of sexual assault, told The New Yorker magazine that Harvey Weinstein sexually harassed her at a hotel room at the Toronto Film Festival in 1995.

Elsewhere, the international film community has come down hard following details of Weinstein's alleged sexual harassment and assault, some of which resulted in paid settlements, published in separate reports in The New York Times  last week and this Tuesday in an exposé by Ronan Farrow in The New Yorker.

 

The British film industry on Wednesday suspended Weinstein's BAFTA membership, saying it hoped the action would send "a clear message that such behavior has absolutely no place in our industry." British politicians are also pressuring Prime Minister Theresa May to strip the U.S. producer of his honorary title of Commander of the British Empire, an order of chivalry that rewards contributions outside the civil service. Weinstein, who backed scores of British films, including The King's Speech and Shakespeare in Love, was awarded the CBE in 2004.


 

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