A new film festival kicking off Friday in Franklin made a last-minute change. Organizers added a formal discussion about Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, against whom allegations of predatory behavior continue to grow. They'll also discuss the resources women have if it happens to them.
A panel of female casting directors and producers, scheduled for Saturday morning at the Franklin International Independent Film Festival, will now also be addressing the topic of "Why Harvey Weinstein Matters."
One reason is the awareness that’s been created by the scope of his actions, says Nancy Puetz, who heads the Tennessee chapter of Women in Film and Media (WiFM), a festival partner.
"If there’s a good thing about Harvey Weinstein," says Puetz, "it's that it removed some of the stigma that has been present for a very long time in these cases. It’s an epidemic that women don’t speak up for themselves, especially when inappropriate advances occur. But it just takes one strong voice to create that ripple effect of acknowledgement."
WiFM, which counts 14,000 members worldwide, has been teaching women across the film industry for years about the concrete options and safeguards they do have.
"We discuss what the best practices are," says Puetz, "how to be mentored, who are the people that you look to once the people you’re supposed to trust might have violated those trusts."
The issue may be wage-related or personal. The important thing is to know who to turn to, she says, especially when the person to whom you’re supposed to report inappropriate behavior is the problem.
In Tennessee, Puetz says, go to the government. She recommends reporting violations to the state Entertainment Commission or the Memphis & Shelby County Film Commissioner.
The first-ever Franklin International Independent Film Festival runs through Sunday.