October 16, 2017


Words are powerful. Speaking them and writing them shifts things internally. I've discovered this most in writing my memoir and reclaiming myself through the process, but there are some words that are difficult to say. Alcoholic was difficult for me to say. Homeless has been an uncomfortable one for me lately, as I have a more objective view of my life from twenty years ago. Sexual Assault is perhaps the most difficult. There are words that are true, even when we don't want them to be.

Yes, Me Too. I am so moved by all who have participated in this moment and discussion. I am proud of those who are taking time to recognize their part, who feel something from this. I also acknowledge those who chose to remain silent or don't want to participate, that is ok too. And to all of the men, I know you too. There is space for us to all be here and heal.

I want to share with you about the time I was in the same room with Harvey Weinstein. Cannes Film Festival in 2015, the Netflix talk with Chief of Content Ted Sarandos. I had just walked past Jane Fonda, so giddy that I got to be here with the elite of my industry. A heated discussion was taking place in the room, producers and journalists began to argue with Sarandos and call out the secrecy of audience reach, budgets and distribution...and Harvey stands up. There was an audible gasp and a thrill in the air. Hollywood Royalty was before us. Everyone listened. A blind person would have felt the shift, immense power and influence. Him being in the room was the highlight of my trip. One degree of Weinstein. It's now the kind of thing that keeps my mother up at night. Her conclusion, "I'm so glad you never moved to the US. Hollywood is no place for a woman."

But where is our place exactly? Have I been safe here in Edmonton, Alberta? Have I been spared from sexism, harassment and a disgusting abuse of power and influence? No, I have not. None of us have. In fact, perhaps it is worse. Perhaps people get away with more.

The problem is, we idolize a lot of mediocre men. We defer a lot of power to The Gatekeepers - those who decide whether we're in or out, greenlit or banished. The problem is, their spotlight feels wonderful when it's on you and it's so easy to be charmed by the empty praise of being talented, which is why you desperately need to know who the fuck you are so it doesn't fill you or phase you. I have also felt the cold shadows from powerful men who have had their feathers ruffled when my "no" has harmed their ego. I have fallen from a few "golden child" pedestals, snubbed and ignored at industry parties in my own hometown.

The film industry is carefully constructed to favor the people who already have power and influence and it has been a playground for perversion and coercion for far too long. Let's not be blind to what is happening in our own backyard. I've had to promote a director through a previous job that I know sexually abuses women. How do I resolve that? The backroom whispers are not enough to keep women safe. Everyone knows it. Nothing is done. I've adjudicated films in Alberta that have turned my stomach. Low budget "indie horrors," aka a vehicle for disgusting men to cast themselves in sex scenes with young women with zero acting experience. I've read a script recently that actually made me cry. It was supposed to be a comedy. The way women were portrayed made me realize this screenwriter hates women and he doesn't even know it. I couldn't sleep that night. Instead I started plotting a vicious revenge film in the vein of Deliverance because maybe, finally, you guys would fucking get how tired I am of watching women being called sluts, cowering in terror, being raped and killed. So tired.

I will say this: sometimes those talented people we see in the room are the ones who have perfected the mask. All that glitters is not gold. And when we do finally get to see the man behind the curtain, maybe we should stop pretending. Maybe we should say something, because words are more powerful when they leave the tip of the tonque, the teeth, the lips.


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