Olivia Wilde, Elizabeth Olsen Call for Sisterhood in Hollywood Amidst Sexual Assault Claims

Rachel Weisz, Cynthia Nixon, Dakota Fanning, Mira Nair, Rebecca Hall, Christina Ricci, Leslye Headland, Ane Crabtree, Riva Marker and Semi Chellas were among those feting women in film on Tuesday.
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Dakota Fanning, Elizabeth Olsen and Olivia Wilde

Donna Gigliotti, Rachel Weisz, Dakota Fanning, Natasha Lyonne, Kyra Sedgwick, Ilene Chaiken and Amma Asante were among those feting women in film at a luncheon for Through Her Lens, Chanel's and Tribeca Enterprises’ third annual workshop that provides female filmmakers with project support, master classes and one-on-one mentorship. The kickoff bash was held Tuesday at Locanda Verde, a New York City restaurant coincidentally located around the corner from Harvey Weinstein’s company headquarters.

“My last name is not working right now,” joked Tribeca Enterprises’ Paula Weinstein (no relation) in her opening remarks of the producer, who has been plagued with decades of sexual assault allegations from dozens of women.

Tribeca Enterprises’ Jane Rosenthal took a moment to highlight the prevalence of “powerful predators” in America. “A year ago, we sat in this room filled with optimism because our country was about to elect a strong woman to be our president,” she told the room of women in the film industry. “The deal was sealed a few days earlier when her opposing candidate was all over the airwaves bragging about committing sexual assault, and guess what? He’s not in jail; he’s in the White House — that is, when he’s not playing on one of his golf courses.”

“Clarence Thomas, he’s on the Supreme Court. Bill O’Reilly’s network paid him out millions to settle multiple claims, and now he’s got a new digital show. Bill Cosby is laughing off his 20-some rapes. Roger Ailes cost his network multi-billions, plus his own $40 million settlement, before having the courtesy of dying and saving us from watching him start a new media empire. Harvey Weinstein says he’s suing The New York Times for exposing his own reign of terror,” she continued. “That Anthony Weiner is actually going to prison seems almost quaint!”

Beyond applauding the women who have bravely come forward with their accounts thus far, many attendees — among whom were Mira Nair, Rebecca Hall, Christina Ricci, Grace Gummer, Lola Kirke, Zosia Mamet, Jennifer Morrison, Leslye Headland, Amy Heckerling, Ane Crabtree, Riva Marker, Semi Chellas and others — also charted their next steps for industry-wide change. “If women continue to be basically only in front of the camera and men tend to be creating, writing and financing, there’s an obvious power disjunction that can lead to this kind of abuse,” Cynthia Nixon told The Hollywood Reporter. “The more that we stop thinking of women as actresses and men as directors and writers and producers, that’s the real long-term solution.”

Echoed Killer Films’ co-founder Pamela Koffler said, “The one very clear action is more women need to be in leadership positions. It just diversifies the way decisions are made and the way culture is formed, and the degree of tolerating bad behavior will change. It weeds out the guys who can’t control their horrible base impulses.”

Olivia Wilde acknowledged why a Hollywood sisterhood has yet to be realized widely. “For some reason, women are raised to think we have to compete to succeed, and men don’t operate that way. There have been men’s clubs for years, literally and figuratively; they don’t have any shame associated with asking for help,” she explained. “Women don’t operate like that, but if we can understand the power of the collective, then we’ll understand our power as individuals. I hope this makes way for that.”

Elizabeth Olsen also wishes for the current conversation to spill over into other industries: “I have friends who have quit jobs because they weren’t supported by their office and tried to figure out legally how to do anything, but they couldn’t. There’s a systemic problem throughout every industry.”

And despite the onslaught of harrowing headlines since the exposés by The New York Times and The New Yorker, producer Shari Springer Berman hopes the next generation of women isn’t deterred from pursuing a career in film: “We need you. You are the future. You need to be inspired by the brave women that are coming out now. We’re at a point where we can really change this.”