Berlin Jury President Juliette Binoche Calls Harvey Weinstein a "Great Producer"

Tristar Media/WireImage

The French actress reiterated she was never a victim of the embattled mogul and that she wants to "let justice do what it has to do."

French actress Juliette Binoche on Thursday defended Harvey Weinstein's track record as a Hollywood producer, while recognizing he had been a sexual predator.

"As a producer, he was wonderful, most of the time. I think he was a great producer," the Oscar winner, who is president of the Berlin Film Festival jury, said during the jury press conference. "We shouldn't forget [that], even though it has been difficult for some directors and actors, and especially actresses."

Added Binoche: "I want to see peace to his mind and let justice do what it has to do." 

After Weinstein was accused of assaulting dozens of women, the #MeToo revolution swept over Hollywood and elsewhere. Binoche on Thursday reiterated earlier statements that she had never been a victim of the Hollywood producer. "I never had any problems with him. I could see he had problems," she said.

Binoche suggested Weinstein had been judged enough by public opinion, and the legal system should be allowed to decide his fate. “I’m trying to put my feet in his shoes. He’s had enough, I think. A lot of people have expressed themselves. Now justice has to do its work," she said.

The festival's opening press conference saw the world of the personal and political blur as jury members talked about Time's Up, Netflix and their upcoming film screenings and deliberations. Binoche said she expected politics and social issues to loom large when she and her jury members judge this year's festival selection.

"The world is quite egotistical at the moment. A lot of rich countries are closing their borders, and also the climate [is] changing, there's a lot of questions happening and a lot of urgency," Binoche told the media representatives. "I don't know what the discussions will be, but (the political issues) are very much in our minds. I'm amazed to see governments not working as seriously as they should."

Los Angeles Times film critic Justin Chang welcomed being able to leave the "American-centric" cinema bubble in Hollywood to consider weighty political films in Berlin in his jury role. "I come to Berlin to get away from that mindset and be open to a world to where we can see films from around the world."

The #MeToo and Time's Up movements came up elsewhere, including when U.K. producer-director Trudie Styler (Freak Show) applauded the Berlinale for the higher number of competition films directed by women. "We can say, speaking as a woman, that this is not only courageous, but a stepping-forward moment that (festival head) Dieter Kosslick has created," she said.

This year's jury will assess a Berlin competition lineup where seven of the 17 titles in the running, or 41 percent, are directed by women.

And Netflix came up as an issue at the Berlin press conference when Oscar-winning Chilean director Sebastian Lelio pointed to the video streaming giant being both an opportunity and a challenge for indie filmmakers.

"Film is not digital, It is a language. As long as it keeps being spoken, it will be alive," Lelio said. At the same time, he questioned if indie films with "real cultural relevance and penetration" can survive in the marketplace without a theatrical release and Netflix and other streamers debuting them online.

"We are at a crossroads. Things are changing, and I don't think film is going to die, but I'm a defender of the collective experience of film in theaters," he said. Lelio’s A Fantastic Woman bowed in Berlin before winning the 2018 Oscar for best foreign language film.

The international presser came as Berlin kicks off on Thursday night with the New York-set drama The Kindness of Strangers from Danish director Lone Scherfig, and starring Zoe Kazan, Tahar Rahim, Andrea Riseborough, Caleb Landry Jones, Jay Baruchel and Bill Nighy.

The 69th Berlinale runs through Feb. 17.