Pro­file, in­ter­rupted

Cana­dian film­maker wants an­other shot at We­in­stein with a new doc­u­men­tary

Calgary Herald - - MOVIES - VIC­TO­RIA AHEARN

A Cana­dian film­maker who re­leased a 2011 doc­u­men­tary on Har­vey We­in­stein is now work­ing on a new big-screen project that would tackle the al­le­ga­tions of sex­ual ha­rass­ment and as­sault lev­elled against the fallen movie mogul and oth­ers.

Mon­treal-born Barry Avrich says he wants to look at the ac­cu­sa­tions — which he didn’t know about when he wrote, di­rected and pro­duced Unau­tho­rized: The Har­vey We­in­stein Project.

He also wants to ex­am­ine Hol­ly­wood cul­ture and look at sex­ual mis­con­duct out­side of the en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try.

“At the end of the day, I feel that I made a film about a man that I found in­cred­i­bly pas­sion­ate, fas­ci­nat­ing and in­trigu­ing — and I didn’t get the whole story and I feel cheated,” Avrich says.

“I knew there was a dark side. I didn’t know there was that dark side, and I feel that it’s im­por­tant to tell the whole story. It’s an in­com­plete story for me, an in­com­plete nar­ra­tive.”

Avrich said he wants to make the new doc­u­men­tary quickly, “long be­fore” the next Toronto In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val in Septem­ber.

He’s al­ready started film­ing and is set to travel to New York, Los An­ge­les and Lon­don.

Avrich said he wor­ries that the mass of head­lines sur­round­ing sex­ual mis­con­duct al­le­ga­tions “de­sen­si­tizes the sit­u­a­tion.” A film would help pre­serve such sto­ries and “per­pet­u­ate the mo­men­tum so that this doesn’t be­come a move­ment du jour.”

“I just think we live in the decade of dis­trac­tion now, where sto­ries that are posted in so­cial me­dia — and there are so many head­lines — the ac­cusers, the vic­tims be­come, at some point, wall­pa­per, and I don’t want that to hap­pen,” said Avrich, whose other films in­clude The Last Mogul, about leg­endary agent Lew Wasser­man, and Filthy Gor­geous, about Pent­house founder Bob Guc­cione.

Avrich said he’s al­ready spo­ken with some vic­tims and has taken out an ad in Hol­ly­wood trade magazines ask­ing more to come for­ward to be in­ter­viewed for his new doc.

“What I’m say­ing to them is that a so­cial me­dia post­ing on your ex­pe­ri­ence is not enough. Why? Be­cause it fades and evap­o­rates in­stantly af­ter some­body has read it,” he said.

“Film lasts for­ever, and I think the only way we’re go­ing to get change is if these sto­ries are im­mor­tal­ized.”

Avrich said he also wants such sto­ries to serve as a pos­si­ble de­ter­rent and “a warn­ing for the next gen­er­a­tion of artists go­ing into this in­dus­try, of what they need to know.”

“I’m not look­ing for vic­tims to come on cam­era and tell me bathrobe sto­ries. We’ve all heard them,” Avrich said.

“I’m in­ter­ested in what they’ve learned, what their ad­vice is in pro­tect­ing artists go­ing for­ward, what else they think they can do in terms of chang­ing the cul­ture, do they be­lieve the cul­tural change?”

Avrich said he’ll prob­a­bly ask We­in­stein to be in­ter­viewed for this film, but doubts it would hap­pen.

Unau­tho­rized: The Har­vey We­in­stein Project ad­dresses the pro­ducer’s no­to­ri­ous rep­u­ta­tion as a hot­headed mi­cro-man­ager, but it doesn’t men­tion any al­le­ga­tions of sex­ual mis­con­duct, which came to light in Oc­to­ber.

Avrich said he had no re­la­tion­ship with We­in­stein be­fore mak­ing the doc, and the pro­ducer went at him “very ag­gres­sively” with “all kinds of prom­ises, pay­offs in terms of other film deals” to try to put an end to the film.

Avrich as­sured We­in­stein he would make a “bal­anced film” about his life, he said, but no­body within the mogul’s sta­ble of artists would speak with him.

“Had I known those things, I ab­so­lutely would have been there,” said Avrich of the tor­rent of al­le­ga­tions that have been made. “But at the same time, I can hon­estly tell you that I know I would have had doors slammed in my face.”


“I knew there was a dark side” to Har­vey We­in­stein, says film­maker Barry Avrich. “I didn’t know there was that dark side, and I feel that it’s im­por­tant to tell the whole story.”

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