Former Berlin and Venice Festival Director Defends Harvey Weinstein

Harvey Weinstein and Moritz de Hadeln
J. Vespa/Wireimage

"He's one of the few Hollywood producers that truly love film," Moritz de Hadeln wrote in an op-ed for a Swiss newspaper. "The lynch justice he's now experiencing is just disgusting."

Moritz de Hadeln, the former director of the Berlin and Venice film festivals, has publicly defended disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.

In an op-ed for Swiss newspaper Weltwoche, de Hadeln praised Weinstein as "one of the few Hollywood producers who truly love film," writing that "no one has done as much for European cinema as he has."

In the piece, de Hadeln sharply criticizes his festival colleagues, including Cannes festival director Thierry Fremaux, Dieter Kosslick of the Berlin festival and Venice director Alberto Barbera, for condemning Weinstein after dozens of women came forward last year accusing the Oscar-winning producer of sexual harassment and assault.

"More than anyone else, they should understand the important role that the Weinstein brothers, Harvey in particular, have had in supporting European cinema," he wrote, noting that the films of Franco Zeffirelli, Jim Sheridan, Pedro Almodovar, Stephen Frears and Bernardo Bertolucci, among others, would not have "gained entry into the U.S. market" without Weinstein. "Banning Harvey means European cinema loses an important trump card, a person...whose expertise has made it possible for many important works to succeed."

De Hadeln wrote that Weinstein, who has been accused by dozens of women of sexual harassment and assault, is the victim of "lynch justice" that the 77-year-old former festival director called "disgusting."

Weinstein, de Hadeln argued, "has not even been convicted of the crimes these numerous women have accused him of, but the voice of the people has denied him the right to presumption of innocence.... We should let the legal system decide if Weinstein has committed any crimes," but Weinstein's professional contributions to cinema "are undeniable."

In his article, De Hadeln also questioned the reach of the #MeToo movement, which has gained international prominence. While allegations of assault or rape can be handled by the legal system, de Hadeln argued, the movement is now questioning "the relationship between men and women, the attraction and repulsion that is anchored in human nature." He wrote: "When an actress is touched by Harvey Weinstein in an indecorous manner, goes alone the next day to his hotel room and then screams 'Me too!' you can only agree with [French actress] Brigitte Bardot in calling them a hypocrite." 

De Hadeln, 77, was director of the Berlin Film Festival from 1980 to 2001 and ran the Venice fest in 2002 and 2003. During that time, he featured several films produced by Weinstein, including The English Patient, Jackie Brown, Shakespeare in Love, Dirty Pretty Things and Frida