The anger directed at disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein “has been turned into something positive” in the year since his fall from grace, the director of the London Film Festival has told Sky News.
Speaking at the opening of the event following one of Hollywood’s most turbulent years, Tricia Tuttle said redressing gender imbalance in the film industry had been “a long time in the making”.
The film festival itself has responded with a significant emphasis on female stories and women filmmakers – some 38% of directors showing here this year are women, and 50% of the films in competition have been created by women.
These statistics put other festivals to shame – there were only three female directors at Cannes, while at Venice only one of the 21 films in competition was made by a woman.
Ms Tuttle says the Weinstein scandal has actually had some positive effects.
“It’s been a long time in the making, in terms of people wanting to redress the gender imbalance in the film industry,” she said.
“But what we’ve seen this year is incredible energy and solidarity and I think that anger has been turned to something really positive.”
Actress-turned-director Jessica Hynes, whose film The Fight will be shown at the festival, says the fundamental shift is undeniable
“Men are very protective of their role, their ideas as the formative genius, the ultimate creative force, and women are supposed to facilitate that genius, not be the force,” she said. “I think that’s something women are challenging and I think that’s a good thing.”
Steve McQueen’s Widows sets the tone with its strong female line up. The film, which stars Viola Davis and Michelle Rodriguez, is based on Lynda La Plante’s 1980s TV series which saw a group of women planning an art heist.
Elizabeth Karlsen, the producer of Colette, which stars Keira Knightley and is one of the other major films of the festival, told Sky News the industry is slowly changing.
“Finance is a high-risk business so you’re trying to look for some kind of stability in it and unfortunately that has been constantly if we have a big lead, white, male actor that’s going to guarantee us success,” she said.
“But what has been shown is that actually what people want is stories that engage them, and stories that spark their imagination, and stories that teach, and stories that entertain.
“And it doesn’t matter if those are stories about black, brown, yellow, trans, women, men – they are great stories, there is a universality of emotion and connection that stories can access.”
However, actress Rose McGowan told Sky News she believes there is definitely still a long way to go.
It has been a year since she accused Weinstein of rape, sparking an avalanche of allegations and creating the global #MeToo movement that shook the film industry and beyond.
“I am a filmmaker and that’s my great love,” she said. “But blacklisting was still in in effect – when my movie Dawn (released in 2014) was at Sundance, it was the first time I was back there since being raped there, and it was interesting not one manager or agent, not one person called to offer me a job as a director.
“Everyone in my block of directors in competition with me, they’re all on their second movies now, so it just shows the blacklisting is still alive and well.”
The London Film Festival runs until 21 October.