JOHANNESBURG — Filmmakers on Saturday welcomed the sexual misconduct scandal engulfing Hollywood as a “positive” moment that could end decades of abuse and serve as an example to other industries.
Several directors told AFP at the annual Governors Awards the flood of allegations against Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey and others might finally force reform and protect future aspiring stars. James Gunn, the director of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy movies, said it was “a really positive thing for the industry.” “It’s been something that has existed for a long time.
It’s something that stopped workflow, harmed creativity, harmed making money and it’s just not good for us,” he said.
The acclaimed director repeated previous allegations that a priest at his Catholic school in Manchester, Missouri, had been a pedophile.
“For me this is a light being shone upon a lot of things … And at the same time a lot of people in Hollywood are really terrible people and that’s coming to light,” he added. Gunn spoke out ahead of veteran movie star Donald Sutherland accepting an honorary Oscar at Hollywood’s Ray Dolby Ballroom “for a lifetime of indelible characters, rendered with unwavering truthfulness”.
Stars at the glitzy ceremony included Jennifer Lawrence, Jake Gyllenhaal, Tom Hanks, Chadwick Boseman and Emma Stone, who was deep in conversation for much of the evening with ex-boyfriend and “Spiderman” co-star Andrew Garfield. Denis Villeneuve, the Oscar-nominated director of Arrival and Blade Runner 2049, told AFP there was “something very positive” about victims of abuse finally breaking their silence.
“Hollywood is a mirror of society and I think that what’s happening here, I hope, will spread in society because those things cannot be,” he told AFP.
“We are in 2017. I cannot believe it is still happening today. What I’m hearing is that people are sad and there’s a feeling of relief at the same time that it’s out.”
Andy Serkis, best known as the award-winning motion capture artist in Peter Jackson’s King Kong and Lord of the Rings movies, said he hoped the scandal would lead to abusers in the political sphere being exposed.
“Hopefully some great will come from it which is people who are in positions of power will not be able to feel that they can get away with being bigots or bullies, or predatory and misusing power,” the actor, who made his directorial debut this year with “Breathe,” told AFP.
Canadian national Sutherland, a two-time Golden Globe winner, got his big break in The Dirty Dozen (1967) and has more than 140 film credits spanning six decades.
The 82-year-old has had starring roles in numerous iconic movies, including M*A*S*H, Don’t Look Now, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Italian Job, Pride and Prejudice and The Hunger Games series. Married three times, he has five children, including actor Kiefer Sutherland (The Lost Boys).
Quoting vaudeville comedian Jack Benny, he said: “I don’t deserve this. But I have arthritis and I don’t deserve that either.” Writer-director Charles Burnett, cinematographer Owen Roizman and filmmakers Agnes Varda and Alejandro G Inarritu were also awarded honorary Oscars.
Belgian-born Varda, sometimes described as the “mother of the French New Wave,” was introduced by A-listers Jessica Chastain and Angelina Jolie. She jokingly expressed disappointment that no man had been willing to get up on stage and sing her praises, before bringing the house to its feet by dancing onstage with Jolie.
The Governors Awards were created as a separate event in 2009 to allow more space for the honorees to accept their statuettes and to unclutter the main show’s packed schedule.
Previous winners of honorary Oscars include Jackie Chan, Lauren Bacall, Francis Ford Coppola, Oprah Winfrey, Angelina Jolie and Spike Lee.