The film industry’s long-standing problem with sexual assault has been in the spotlight. Earlier this month, indie-film stalwarts the Alamo Drafthouse was embroiled in controversy. First they made a show of firing critic Devin Faraci over sexual assault allegations, only to secretly rehire him. After that, Harry Knowles, founder of Ain’t It Cool News and co-founder of Alamo Drafthouse’s yearly Fantastic Fest, was also accused of sexual assault.
Most recently, though, The New York Times released a lengthy, damning article about Harvey Weinstein.
Weinstein and his brother Bob founded Miramax Films in 1979. Miramax became one of the major names in arthouse cinema — even with some controversy, as the Weinsteins were notorious for re-editing films without the input of their filmmakers. After 2005, the Weinsteins left to form The Weinstein Company, where they’ve stayed until yesterday when Harvey resigned over the sexual harassment claims outlined by the Times.
Weinstein is alleged to have used his status as one of the most powerful men in Hollywood to sexually assault women. While he has repeatedly settled out of court over sexual harassment, and in his statement that he “regret[s] what happened,” he’s also planning to sue the New York Times over the article. His lawyer is Charles Harder, best known as Hulk Hogan’s attorney in the case that killed Gawker Media.
The scandal is particularly of interest to us because Weinstein has been involved in a number of queer films. Here we’ve decided to take a look at five of them. While we’re not knocking these movies due to the scandal, knowing what we know now might mean it’ll be a little more difficult to fully enjoy them.
1. Velvet Goldmine
Though the Weinsteins didn’t discover Todd Haynes — that was Christine Vachon of Killer Films, who produced his first two films, Poison and Safe — Haynes has worked a number of times with Miramax and The Weinstein Company. His first film with them was the outstanding Velvet Goldmine. It was a veiled quasi-biopic of David Bowie, mixing in the true stories of Iggy Pop, Lou Reed and Bowie with Bowie’s character in The Man Who Fell to Earth, all with the structure of Citizen Kane. The brilliant mix of influences transforms Velvet Goldmine into something original and amazing.
Another Todd Haynes joint, Carol wasn’t produced by the Weinstein Company but it was distributed by them. The critical smash adapted Patricia Highsmith’s semi-autobiographical novel about a lesbian relationship. There was a bit of controversy when the television trailer — provided by The Weinstein Company — featured a split-second shot of Rooney Mara’s nipple.
3. A Single Man
Tom Ford‘s directorial debut A Single Man was also only distributed by The Weinstein Company. Ford financed the film himself. But as with Carol, The Weinstein Company’s marketing of the film stirred up controversy. The initial theatrical poster for the film featured star Colin Firth lying next to Julianne Moore.
While that doesn’t sound controversial, the film is about a gay professor, and this first look at the film made people wonder if the gay content of the original story had been cut out. While the initial trailer included a kiss between Firth and Matthew Goode, it was quickly recut, removing that kiss but including one with Moore’s character.
Ford himself objected to the marketing. However his complaint was that it made the film look like a romantic comedy. Ford said:
I don’t think the movie’s been de-gayed. I have to say that we live in a society that’s pretty weird. For example, you can have full-frontal male nudity on HBO, yet in cinema, you can’t have naked male buttocks. You can’t have men kissing each other without it being considered adult content. So, in order to cut a trailer that can go into broad distribution in theaters, certain things had to be edited out. But it wasn’t an intentional attempt to remove the gayness of the movie.
[The marketing] is deceptive. I don’t think they should do that because there’s nothing to sanitize. It’s a beautiful story of love between two men and I see no point in hiding that. People should see it for what it is.
As for Harvey Weinstein, he only said “Brokeback Mountain did pretty well. Midnight Cowboy did pretty well. If you know how to market, you can market. There’s an audience for it.” He then refused to talk about the poster or trailer further, ending the interview.
4. Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Vicky Cristina Barcelona was directed by Woody Allen, who of course has had his own sexual abuse allegations. Like many of Allen’s films, Vicky Cristina Barcelona is about a dysfunctional relationship — this one, a love quadrangle. While not the most queer film on the list, it is famous for a lesbian kiss between Scarlett Johansson and Penélope Cruz.
5. Project Runway
OK, OK, we know this isn’t a movie. But as longtime Project Runway fans, it’s still worth mentioning. The Weinsteins were involved with the show from the very beginning, back when they were still at Miramax. (Miramax and The Weinstein Company now co-produce the show.) The fashion program starring Tim Gunn and Heidi Klum is now in its 16th season, and that’s not even counting all the spinoffs.