Filmmakers of Sexual Assault Doc Call on Academy to Oust Harvey Weinstein (Guest Column)

"We would like The Weinstein Co. to direct any monies it may be receiving from our film to help pay for [victims'] therapy, if they so desire, or, to be donated to a rape crisis center," write Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering, the Oscar-nominated filmmakers behind 'The Hunting Ground.'
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Harvey Weinstein

Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering are the Oscar-nominated filmmaking team behind The Hunting Ground, a 2015 documentary about the sexual assault epidemic on American college campuses, which was distributed by The Weinstein Co.'s Radius division.

We think the Academy should rescind Harvey Weinstein’s membership immediately. This would be an effective way of finally saying that this type of behavior will no longer be sanctioned and protected in this industry. Admission to the Academy ought to be predicated on work merits as well as workplace conduct — and on the latter Weinstein is an epic fail.

Sexual assault is a traumatic crime that often has devastating lifelong consequences. It's committed by a small percentage of men — who, more often than not, are, like Weinstein, repeat offenders. They are able to commit these crimes with impunity thanks to a culture which historically has given them cover. It is time for that cover to end. Rescinding membership is a way of clearly stating that we as an industry will no longer be complicit.

Rescinding membership will send a clear and unequivocal message to predators that they will no longer be welcomed and protected by their peers. Instead they, rather than their victims, will be the ones who are ostracized, shamed and held accountable.

We are grateful to the many women who have come forward to share their stories. Not for any glory or gain or self-aggrandizement, but simply to protect others. They are heroes and should be regarded as such.

We are also grateful to The New York Times and The New Yorker for their recent reporting. Both should be applauded for their bravery. It is sad that reporting this crime takes bravery (both on the part of the victims and the media), but given that in this day and age it still does, we applaud these brave acts. And we encourage others in the media to follow the lead of their peers and continue to bring these stories to light.  

As far as the particulars of the Weinstein case, a few things should be noted:

What we are witnessing is unprecedented and remarkable. Shortly after this news broke, Weinstein was fired from his job and released a statement in which he admitted to committing regrettable actions — ones that would merit his going into therapy. We think his interests might be better placed in worrying about the healing journey of his victims. We would like The Weinstein Co. to direct any monies it may be receiving from our film to help pay for their therapy, if they so desire, or, to be donated to a rape crisis center. We can think of no better use of these funds.

We would like this moment to encourage everyone in this industry to examine in what ways they can work to change our culture so that these crimes are no longer normalized and tolerated. This means no longer mass-producing narratives that are sexist, misogynistic and traffic in rape myths. There are more diverse stories to be told. Start telling them.

We suggest USC keep Weinstein’s monies and use them to fund and support women filmmakers, or donate the monies to their local rape crisis center. There is no sense in giving it back to Weinstein — that won’t help anyone or anything. We encourage them to keep it and put it to good use.

We are surprised by commentaries which seem to feel Weinstein's behavior is indicative of moral turpitude in the Democratic Party. Sexual predation knows no political affiliation and is resoundingly bipartisan. The common denominator here is power and privilege — attributes which fluidly cross party lines.

Harvey Weinstein tormented dozens of women, many of whom still bear the marks of their torment daily. The pain of an assault is pernicious and messy. Healing from these wounds is an ongoing process. For some, this process never ends. Support them. Believe them.