Movie on Weinstein shown at Sundance

The movie Untouchable, about film mogul Harvey Weinstein who is charged with sexual aggression, is directed by Ursula Macfarlane (far left, with actress Rosanna Arquette, one of the alleged victims). Also at the Sundance Film Festival were Naomi Watts (mi
The movie Untouchable, about film mogul Harvey Weinstein who is charged with sexual aggression, is directed by Ursula Macfarlane (far left, with actress Rosanna Arquette, one of the alleged victims). Also at the Sundance Film Festival were Naomi Watts (middle) at The Wolf Hour premiere and Emma Roberts (right) at the Paradise Hills debut. PHOTOS: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

PARK CITY (United States) • For more than 20 years, Harvey Weinstein reigned supreme as rainmaker at the Sundance Film Festival, spending millions to buy up the best in independent cinema.

Now he is back, but in a film detailing his downfall that gives voice to his many sexual assault accusers.

Untouchable, directed by Ursula Macfarlane, makes no claim to offer new revelations. Rather, it attempts to retrace, as rigorously and scrupulously as possible, the talent and decadence of one of the most powerful men in Hollywood - a man who now awaits trial on charges of rape and sexual aggression.

The Sundance Film Festival, once Weinstein's favourite hunting ground, presented the film's world premiere over the weekend, just hours after showing Leaving Neverland, a four-hour documentary featuring two young men who said that, as children, they were sexually abused by Michael Jackson.

Weinstein's alleged victims are also at the heart of Untouchable. Whether unknown starlets or A-listers, they describe what they say were the abuses, threats and insatiable sexual appetite of Weinstein as he acted without restraint.

Among them is actress Rosanna Arquette, one of the first women to publicly accuse the producer, in an article by reporter Ronan Farrow in The New Yorker magazine.

"It was time," she told Agence France-Presse on the "black carpet" of the film's premiere. "We were seeing more and more abuse, such abuse of power of a powerful man who can destroy lives in a flash. So it was time."

Arquette said people were beginning to talk about abuse even before the Weinstein scandal erupted in public. "You had the women of Bill Cosby and they came out before us, so they spoke. And then we came out," she added.

"Apparently because a lot of us were famous actresses, people went 'What?' And then it started something so huge and now it is a movement across the world - everywhere, India, Africa, everywhere."

Macfarlane was contacted by producers about making Untouchable shortly after the New York Times and New Yorker published their sensational revelations about Weinstein in October 2017.

She immediately said yes.

Macfarlane did not know Weinstein, but feels she knows his type well.

"To be honest, when I read these stories, it didn't surprise me because, of course, I know about lots of other men's behaviour, alleged behaviour, in these spheres," she said.

What did shock her was learning the extent of the allegations and realising there were "layers of complicity within the industry" protecting Weinstein.

"Women were trying to talk about this for decades, they were trying to talk about it and break the story and they just couldn't do it, you know, because everyone was frightened," she said.

"So I think that level of power and fear that he seemed to be able to generate, that shocked me." .

Fifteen months after the original "earthquake", Arquette believes it is time for men to engage more actively and draw a line, once and for all, on the sordid ways of pre-Weinstein Hollywood.

"I think people are looking at their watches - 'When is this gonna end?' - the men especially. But the thing is, this is not an attack on men," she said.

"There are many incredible men and those men need to stand up and treat women with respect. It's a paradigm shift. It's not going to work the other way anymore - it's not."

Macfarlane, too, sees the change as irreversible.

"Consciousness is definitely changing and I think the world of Harvey Weinstein is not going to be the same. I do believe that.

"But it might not change as quickly as we all would like.

"That's the issue."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 28, 2019, with the headline 'Movie on Weinstein shown at Sundance'. Print Edition | Subscribe