TORONTO — Just six months after the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke and triggered a flood of sexual misconduct allegations as well as the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements, a Canadian documentary examining the saga is set to make its debut.
“The Reckoning: Hollywood’s Worst Kept Secret,” directed by Montreal-born doc maker Barry Avrich and produced by Melissa Hood of Toronto, will screen April 28 and May 5 as part of the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival.
“The purpose of the film was to immortalize a debate and a time in history, an era, in the face of social media that is, I think in a lot of ways, undermining a lot of the accusations,” said Avrich, whose other projects include the 2011 documentary “Unauthorized: The Harvey Weinstein Project.”
“Because the cycle happens so quickly that you don’t have enough time to debate, the public is getting bored, so how do you keep the debate going? That was the purpose for the film: to immortalize this debate and the conversation, affect change.”
Billed as “a definitive film about the abuse of power in a complicit culture,” the doc has interviews with several actresses who’ve come forward with sexual misconduct allegations against Weinstein, filmmaker James Toback and others. Those actresses include Katherine Kendall and Melissa Sagemiller.
It also has interviews with journalists, agents, psychologists, former Miramax employees and lawyers as it looks at the debates surrounding such allegations, the impact of these cases, and the systemic and cultural issues leading to harassment.
Also among the interviewees is Dylan Farrow, filmmaker Woody Allen’s adopted daughter who alleges he molested her in an attic in 1992 when she was 7. Allen has long denied the allegations and was investigated but not charged.
Hood said Farrow’s story “highlights some of the contradictions and the complexities” of the Time’s Up movement when it comes to supporting certain alleged victims and not others, or separating the art from the artist.
Also featured in the doc is Toronto lawyer Marie Henein, who represented former CBC radio star Jian Ghomeshi in a high-profile sexual assault case. Ghomeshi was found not guilty.
Henein is now representing a Toronto actress suing Weinstein for sexual assault. The allegations have not been tested in court.
“Certainly Marie Henein, coming off the Ghomeshi case, is a complex person and a complex voice in this film, but we wanted it because she’s seen both sides of it,” said Avrich.
The filmmakers said they wanted to feature a wide range of voices to reflect the generational divide over the issues explored.
They did not ask Weinstein or Toback for interviews. Avrich said he figured Weinstein wouldn’t agree to it and Toback has “said it all in how he’s responded and reacted to all of this. I really didn’t want to hear any more from him.”
Weinstein has previously denied through a spokeswoman any allegations of non-consensual contact.
Toback has vehemently denied the allegations.
Avrich said he began working on the film the day the Weinstein scandal broke in October and “went into high gear” when the movie mogul was fired by the company he co-founded.
Initially Avrich thought he would update his 2011 doc on Weinstein, which doesn’t mention any sexual misconduct allegations (Avrich said he was unaware of them when he made the film).
But Avrich and Hood eventually realized “this needed to be a wider scope of discussion and debate.”
“Once we realized how big this story was becoming and how many people were affected and how many industries were affected, we knew there was no endpoint to this filmmaking,” said Hood, who is also an actress.
“You could make this film forever, but we wanted to jump in early and get on top of these questions.”
Avrich said the doc will either have a theatrical release or a broadcast date in the fall, and they’re open to changing the ending if a major development happens.
Hood said she wanted to make the doc now to help affect change during what she feels is a watershed moment.
“I’ve always been really struck by how many women it takes before people will listen and believe a woman,” said Hood.
“Ever since the Jian Ghomeshi thing, I’ve really wanted to look at the question of why women are not being believed and why women are being discredited and dismissed. So I felt that this film really gave us an opportunity to look at that.”
Asked if he thinks Weinstein might try to put an end to this film like he tried to do with his 2011 doc, Avrich said: “Probably, I’m sure. But bring it on, so be it.
“Glass will be broken and I’m ready for that.”
-With files from The Associated Press
Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press