The British Film Institute (BFI) has said it “wholeheartedly support(s) those brave enough to come forward and speak out” against movie mogul Harvey Weinstein.
A BFI spokesperson told the Press Association: “Sexual harassment, abuse and bullying is appalling and unacceptable under any circumstances. “Everyone working in the film industry – and any industry – should be safe and respected in the workplace.
“We wholeheartedly support those brave enough to come forward and speak out. “The film industry urgently needs more women represented on every level, on and off screen. “We don’t believe this situation would have taken so long to surface had there been greater parity of women in the industry.
“Advocating for better inclusion and representation is central to the BFI’s strategic priorities and we have introduced a number of interventions to drive change.” Angelina Jolie and Gwyneth Paltrow are among the high profile stars who have accused Weinstein of sexual harassment, which has seen him dismissed from the Weinstein Company and issue an apology.
Weinstein has denied many of the allegations and issued a vehement denial over three allegations of rape which emerged on Tuesday. Asked if the BFI was going to revoke the Fellowship awarded to him in 2002, the spokesperson said: “All decisions around BFI Fellowships are a matter for the BFI Board to determine.”
Earlier today the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (Bafta) announced it had suspended his membership, effective immediately. A number of senior Labour politicians have also appealed to Prime Minister Theresa May to have the film executive stripped of his honorary CBE.
The chief executive of Women In Film and TV, Kim Kinninmont, said the sexual harassment allegations are symptomatic of the film industry’s culture of sexism. Ms Kinninmont, an award-winning producer and director, also called for him to be stripped of his membership of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, as well as his CBE.
She told the Press Association she was “delighted” that Weinstein’s membership of Bafta had been suspended “as his behaviour is incompatible with their values”. In a statement, Ms Kinninmont said: “The positive message coming out of all this is clear: we will no longer put up with this disgraceful behaviour.
“There has always been a culture of sexism and sexual harassment in this industry. It is a culture of bullying where the male movie moguls had total power over the careers of young ingenues. “Like all forms of bullying, it is difficult to change the behaviour of the bully or indeed of the victim, it’s the onlookers, the by-standers, all of us who can create change.”
Ms Kinninmont said the most effective way of eradicating “this insidious sexism is simply to hire more women in senior positions”. She also praised British actress Emma Thompson for threatening to quit the 2008 film Brideshead Revisited after Weinstein allegedly said Hayley Atwell looked like a “fat pig”.
She added: “We should all speak up if someone is bullied or humiliated in our presence. We should all help victims of bullies to speak up and support them through it.”