Sundance Film Festival won't let Harvey Weinstein back into Park City
As festival reveals its slate, organizers talk about panel discussions and other ways to react to sexual-misconduct cases in Hollywood.
(Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP) The Egyptian Theatre is pictured on the eve of the 2017 Sundance Film Festival on Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017, in Park City.
Disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, now facing scores of accusations of sexual misconduct against women, isn’t likely to return to Park City for the 2018 Sundance Film Festival
— but if he tried, festival organizers advise him to stay home.
“Harvey has been a fixture at Sundance for years. Is he still welcome? He is not,” said John Cooper, the festival’s director.
Robert Redford’s Sundance Institute on Wednesday afternoon announced the 110 feature-film titles
it will unspool at the 2018 festival, set for Jan. 18-28 in Park City and at venues in Salt Lake City and the Sundance resort. In doing so, organizers are preparing for conversations about sexual misconduct and how allegations against Weinstein and many other well-known men have changed the movie landscape.
“What Sundance has done is try to create a culture of inclusion and creativity together,” Cooper said in an interview this week, in anticipation of Wednesday’s slate release. “We do not believe that we participate in or condone a culture that would contribute to crime and harassment. In fact, quite the opposite.”
Two of the assaults of which Weinstein is accused happened in Park City during Sundance. Actor Rose McGowan took an out-of-court settlement after a 1997 encounter with Weinstein in his suite at the Stein Eriksen Lodge, an incident McGowan later called a rape. And former actor Louisette Geiss told the press in October that when she met Weinstein in Park City in 2008, he masturbated in front of her. (Weinstein has denied all rape and sexual assault allegations, consistently maintaining that any sexual contact he had with women was consensual.)
Cooper said Sundance works with local law enforcement, as well as private security teams at Park City hotels, “to create a safe space and supportive environment for attendees,” said Trevor Groth, the festival’s programming director. “That now is feeling even more urgent than ever.”
Weinstein isn’t the only famous man accused of sexual misconduct who has a history at Sundance:
• Actor Kevin Spacey, accused of sexually assaulting a then-14-year-old actor in the 1980s, received the festival’s Piper-Heidsieck Tribute in 2000. His past titles at Sundance include “The Usual Suspects” (1995), “The Big Kahuna” (2000), “The United States of Leland” (2003), “Shrink” (2009), “Margin Call” (2011) and “Rebel in the Rye” (2017).
• Director James Toback, accused by dozens of women of harassment and assault, brought his documentary on boxer Mike Tyson to Sundance in 2009.
• Political journalist and TV pundit Mark Halperin, accused of rubbing himself up against women when he worked at ABC News, was a producer and interviewer on “Trumped,” a documentary about the 2016 election that was a last-minute addition to the 2017 festival.
Cooper said Sundance will deal with other accused men on a case-by-case basis. “So far, no one’s asked for credentials or expressed any interest in coming to the festival,” he said.
Festival programmers were deep in their deliberations on the 2018 slate when The New York Times broke the first story about Weinstein on Oct. 5, and they didn’t immediately grasp its magnitude.
“We were so in our space,” Cooper said. “When you program documentaries as well, you deal with a lot of issues around the whole world, so we were talking more about what was in the films than what was happening [in the industry].”
The festival will program panel discussions on issues of harassment and women’s safety, Cooper said. Some may dovetail with some of the movies coming to Sundance.
One such title is “Seeing Allred,” a documentary profile of lawyer Gloria Allred, whose clients include women who have accused Bill Cosby and Donald Trump of assault. (Allred also represents Geiss and sat with her at her first press conference in October.)
(Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Alex Pollini) Gloria Allred appears in "Seeing Allred" by Sophie Sartain and Roberta Grossman, an official selection of the U.S. Documentary Competition at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival.
Another documentary, “Half the Picture,” addresses sexism in hiring in Hollywood. And there are documentary profiles of such pioneering women as actor Jane Fonda, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, rocker Joan Jett, rapper M.I.A. and fashion designer Vivienne Westwood.
Meanwhile, Sundance rolls on with some changes to the festival’s venues and programs.
The festival will unveil a venue in January, The Ray, a 400-seat theater on Park City’s Park Avenue. It’s between the Fresh Market supermarket and the Holiday Village theaters, in what used to be a cavernous sporting-goods store. The theater will be upstairs, while a new venue for Sundance’s New Frontier program will open downstairs to show virtual-reality works.
Also new to the festival: a separate category, Indie Episodic, covering TV shows and web series that previously were shown under the Special Events label. Titles in Indie Episodic will be announced next week.
Sundance is adding two new awards: Festival Favorite, an audience award for any movie in the festival (not just competition slates), that will be announced after the event’s conclusion; and a Next Innovator Award, chosen among the 10 titles in the Next section by a single juror for a film that makes a stylistic or technological leap.
And this year’s Alfred P. Sloan Prize, given to a film about science or technology, has already been decided: “Search,” director Aneesh Chaganty’s story (in the Next program) of a father (John Cho) trying to find his daughter, told entirely on computer screens.
(Juan Sebastian Baron | courtesy Sundance Institute) John Cho plays a father who uses his daughter's laptop to find clues to track her after she goes missing, in Aneesh Chaganty's "Search," which will screen in the Next program of the 2018 Sundance Film Festival.
How to Sundance
• Jan. 18-28<br>Where
• Park City and venues in Salt Lake City and the Sundance resort in Provo Canyon.<br>Passes and ticket packages
• On sale at sundance.org/festivals
. <br>Individual tickets
• Go on sale starting Jan. 16; $25 for the first half of the festival in Park City (Jan. 18-23), $20 for Salt Lake City screenings and for the second half in Park City (Jan. 24-28).<br>Information