November 27, 2017 / 9:17 PM / 20 days ago

Outcry over Weinstein sex scandal could boost women in Hollywood, insiders say

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Women working in Hollywood should seize upon the global outrage sparked by the Harvey Weinstein scandal to demand gender equality in the film industry, said female actors, producers and directors on Monday at an awards ceremony in Britain.

More than 50 women have said U.S. movie producer Weinstein sexually harassed or assaulted them over the past three decades. Weinstein has denied having non-consensual sex with anyone.

The allegations, which surfaced last month, spurred millions of women worldwide to share experiences of being abused, groped and raped, flooding social media with the hashtag #MeToo.

Amid this groundswell and accusations against Weinstein from high-profile actresses such as Angelina Jolie and Gwyneth Paltrow, the scandal may prove to be a watershed moment for women working in film, female producers and directors said.

“Women have said: ‘Enough is enough, our voices matter, and we should be at the highest levels of the film business’,” said Melissa Silverstein, founder of the Women and Hollywood, which advocates for gender equality in the global film industry.

“The revolution is here, and women will no longer be kept at bay,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation at an awards ceremony in London to mark the initiative’s tenth anniversary.

Producer Elizabeth Karlsen, whose films include “Carol” and “Made in Dagenham”, and director Gurinder Chadha, who won fame for “Bend It Like Beckham”, were among the women celebrated in London, following similar events in New York and Los Angeles last month.

“We must make something positive of the Weinstein scandal,” Chadha said. “More and more brave women are speaking out against harassment and asking what will we do next? How are we going to channel that outpouring of truth and anger and move forward?”

Speaking at the event, several actors, directors and producers bemoaned a lack of women in the global film industry and poor representation of female characters.

Of the top 100 grossing films in 2016, women accounted for only a fifth of producers, a tenth of writers and fewer than one in 20 directors, according to data from the U.S.-based Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film.

In British films, women are cast in less than a third of roles, often in nameless parts such as prostitute and housekeeper, with no gains in a century, the British Film Institute says.

Yet the momentum generated by woman after the allegations against Weinstein offers hope, Karlsen said.

“Women are speaking out, and more importantly, they’re being listened to,” the British producer told the audience.

“Patriarchal power structures harboring abuse are crumbling, and women are marching into the spaces opening up.”

Reporting By Kieran Guilbert, Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience. Visit news.trust.org

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