The problem of sexual harassment and abuse in the film industry is bigger than “the ‘bad men’ and their bad behaviour,” the director of a new film about a predatory Hollywood executive has said.
Kitty Green’s film The Assistant follows a day in the life of junior assistant to a movie mogul similar to convicted rapist Harvey Weinstein, and Green said the abusive behaviour demonstrated still exists at film production companies and in offices around the world.
Green told the PA news agency: “A lot of the coverage was about the ‘bad men’ and their bad behaviour and this idea that, ‘well if we get rid of these (men, it would all be over). Well, we got rid of them so it’s all fixed’.
“And the problem was bigger than that for me.
“We know what happens behind that closed door in offices, we’ve had a lot of stories in the press about that, but what’s on the other side of that door, what kind of machinery is supporting a predator like this? And what kind of environments are those work places?”
Green said it was a challenge to make her movie in the first place because the topic was too discomforting to many people.
She said: “Trying to get it financed was really difficult because it made a lot of people uncomfortable.
“Some people think it’s not a problem anymore, it’ a period piece, it’s over now, we’ve fixed the problem, but a lot of these behaviours, some are still going on at these film production companies.
“A lot of them have terrible HR departments that aren’t protecting their employees and I think a lot of them know that. So I think some people are uncomfortable.
“But to be honest, that’s part of the point of making it, so we can shine a light on that kind of behaviour which I think needs to change, so making people a little uncomfortable is hopefully a good thing in the long run.”
Fallen film producer Weinstein is serving a 23-year sentence for rape and sexual assault in New York and has been charged with a new count of sexual assault, prosecutors in Los Angeles have said.
However, Green said the issue is much wider than him.
She said: “It’s so much bigger than him. The film is all about these microaggressions, these tiny moments, gestures and looks and glances, the way somebody leans into her personal space, all of that I wanted to highlight.
“That to me was important, because all those little moments often go ignored, and I think they can affect somebody’s, especially a young woman’s, self-confidence, and her standing in the office, that’s important to discuss.
“Also a lot of the behaviour in the movie is going on every day in offices all over the world, well not while we’re all sitting at home, but there is a lot in that has remained the same and that’s what we are trying to highlight. We can’t just get rid of Harvey Weinstein and a few of these people, we have to address this more cultural problem.”
The Assistant is available on digital platforms on May 1