Film Interview with She Said: Meet the women who made the Harvey Weinstein story come to life

Hthrough the movie she saidthe New York Times Journalist Megan Twohey, played by Carey Mulligan, yells in a man’s face. She is at a bar with her reporter, Jodi Kantor (Zoe Kazan), and editor, Rebecca Corbett (Patricia Clarkson); The trio have gathered to discuss their investigation into Harvey Weinstein. The confrontation takes place after the drunk man hits Megan.

“I’ve never done that before,” says Twohey with a smile. “But I’ve had outbursts of this nature over the years, dating back to my childhood when I would beat up a neighborhood bully for taunting me and my friends.” She pauses. “It would be naïve for people to believe that we, as journalists, could delve into the outrageous dissemination of sexual abuse without angering us. I just don’t think that’s realistic.”

The story of Twohey and Kantor’s reporting is now well known. In 2017, the duo began investigating allegations of sexual misconduct against a Hollywood heavyweight. The result was a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigation that turned #MeToo into a viral movement encouraging survivors of sexual violence to speak up. It also held perpetrators accountable and in some cases, like Weinstein, put them in jail.

But the journey was complex, as detailed in Twohey and Kantor’s 2018 book, which forms the basis for a drama film of the same name. Directed by Maria Schrader (whose past credits include Emmy-winning miniseries Unorthodox), she said It is said to be about the downfall of one of the most powerful men in the industry. But actually it’s a story about women. Not just Twohey and Kantor and the efforts they went to to expose Weinstein, but the survivors they spoke to and convinced them to go on the record.

The film is thematically based on the contours of old-style journalism films such as headlight (about child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church) and All the President’s men (via the Watergate scandal). Fast-paced, tense, and packed with high-stakes workplace drama (The New York Times allowed the filmmakers to use his actual newsroom), she said does justice to the rigor of investigative reporting. However, some critics have pointed out that the film lacks emotional depth and does not scratch the surface of the issues explored. It may simply be the subject; There are just so many details that survivors of sexual violence are happy to share with the world. But it could also be a conscious decision by the filmmaker.

“We set some rules,” says Schrader. “I’m absolutely certain that I don’t want to be the person who adds another rape scene to the world. So we stuck with our source material, which is Megan and Jodi’s factual reporting.” It was a good choice — and you hardly have to see the assault to get a sense of the trauma it caused. Flashbacks provide the necessary context, and we hear how each of the women was personally and professionally impacted after rejecting Weinstein’s advances. Actress Ashley Judd (played by herself) was pushed out of Hollywood. Weinstein’s former British personal assistant, Zelda Perkins (Samantha Morton), traded movie stars for horse training. Miramax assistant Rowena Chiu (Angela Yeoh) attempted suicide.

Another rule was to keep Weinstein’s presence in the film to a minimum; we see him very briefly as he storms into the New York Times Newsroom – and we only see him from behind. “The entertainment world is always focused on the perpetrators and what made them who they are,” explains Schrader. “We wanted to focus on the survivors and their voices.”

The film also took care of portraying Twohey and Kantor. And while some scenes were complete constructions – like those in the bar – others were portrayed with the utmost truthfulness. “Jodi and Megan looked at all the scenes and made sure the wording was correct,” Schrader says, adding how they let the set designer into both of their homes to capture them and how they correctly live off the newsroom screen.

The process was “staggering” for Kantor, who is shown balancing investigation with family life – at one point she gets a call from actress Rose McGowan while she’s with her young daughter and hastily grabs a crayon and hands over her Netflix password so she can talk freely. For Twohey, however, the film went deeper, examining her struggle with postpartum depression following the birth of her daughter. “I’ve never spoken about that before, and when we spoke to the filmmakers about the possibility of including it in the film, I have to admit I felt a little vulnerable,” she says.

Carey Mulligan and Director Maria Schrader on the set of She Said

(universal images)

As scary as it may seem, bringing her personal life into the mix was a crucial component in the film’s development. “Jodi and I both agreed that it’s important for working moms to be realistic. And I think for us, the fact that we wrote this story while juggling little kids and all the responsibility that comes with it can be challenging on one hand. On the other hand, it can also galvanize properly.”

Weinstein was Twohey’s first case when she returned from maternity leave. “There was something about the way Carey Mulligan threw open the door to the newsroom on her first day on the job and you can see her sort of regaining her confidence and how the work really helps with that. For many women it is very real.”

Both journalists formed strong relationships with the actors who played them. “It was a combination of really spending some time together and getting to know them, but also not floating and giving them permission to say, ‘This isn’t a documentary, this is art, you create characters, go for it,'” says Kantor . “We are happy that we were able to spend some time with them, which was more for research on their part, but more trust and understanding of the process on our part.”

It’s impossible to talk about she said without also acknowledging the precarious state of #MeToo today. In an article for The New York Times Five years ago, since the publication of their study, Twohey and Kantor have charted the ups and downs of the movement. Optimism comes as 22 states pass laws protecting women in the workplace, reformed laws around the world making it easier for survivors to report sexual violence, and more allegations against sex offenders that have been brought to light.

But there is still no lack of pessimism. In April, obituaries for #MeToo began circulating online after Amber Heard lost her high-profile libel case to Johnny Depp. Then, nearly five years after admitting sexual misconduct, Louis CK won a Grammy. And when sexual misconduct allegations surfaced against NFL player Deshaun Watson last summer, he signed a $230 million contract. Weinstein, who is currently incarcerated in New York and is facing a further trial in Los Angeles, is making allegations against him that will probably never lead to criminal charges – more than 90 women have accused him of sexual misconduct.

“Everything has changed and nothing has changed,” Kantor says of the movement’s progress. “But there have been real developments in the last five years. The most difficult question has to do with low-income women. Imagine a woman spinning burgers while being groped by her boss. Is she really better than five years ago? I’m not sure you can really say the answer is yes.”

Producer Dede Gardner with New York Times journalists Rebecca Corbett, Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey on the set of ‘She Said’

(universal images)

Nevertheless, we should not despair. Kantor concedes that social change takes time. And some of the progress will be more difficult to measure on a global scale. “Even as #MeToo takes these twists and turns, we’ve seen questions about safe workplaces and the accountability of bad bosses become more important than ever,” says Twohey. “Jodi and I just feel like being a part of it is the gift of our lives.”

A criticism of she said is that by turning their book into a Hollywood film, Twohey and Kantor are feeding the very industry whose toxicity they have exposed. Some have also pointed out that the film will be produced by Plan B, the production company founded by Brad Pitt, who serves as the project’s executive producer and is currently facing allegations of abusive behavior from his ex-wife Angelina Jolie – Pitt’s representative have denied these claims, calling them “completely untrue”. His commitment to she saidhowever, is considered minimal.

“He wasn’t present during filming,” says Schrader, explaining that Pitt’s partners Dede Gardiner and Jeremy Kleiner were the “hands-on producers” she worked with. “They saw this project from start to finish,” she adds. “Personally, I’ve never met Brad Pitt.”

As for doubts about the filming of her investigation, Kantor has a different attitude. “I think that’s part of the strength of the project,” she explains. “Because it brings the Weinstein story back into its own medium.”

Perhaps more importantly, however, is what the film does for the survivors. “These women were taken out with the trash by Weinstein, and in some cases even had to sign agreements that they would not speak to almost anyone about their own experiences. Hollywood took away their votes. This brings Laura Madden and Zelda Perkins and Rowena Chiu back to cinema, but with respect, dignity and sensitivity. We’re really glad.”

“She Said” will be in cinemas on November 25th

If you suffer from stress and isolation or have difficulty dealing with it, Samaritans offers support. You can speak to someone free of charge by phone or confidentially on 116 123 (UK and ROI), email jo@samaritans.org or visit them Samaritans website Find details of your nearest branch.

For more information on finding sexual assault support, see Rape Crisis here.

https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/women/she-said-movie-interview-trailer-b2232241.html Film Interview with She Said: Meet the women who made the Harvey Weinstein story come to life

JOE HERNANDEZ

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