The decorated filmmaker and documentary veteran Ursula Macfarlane isn’t new to breaching the sensitive and controversial, and her 2017 film storying of the devastating gun violence, One Deadly Weekend in America, is testament. This year, her latest work zeroes in on sexual harassment – a topic that’s come out from under the radar in light of recent events. Case in point: the prevalent sexual harassment in Hollywood circles. Released earlier this year, Untouchable: The Inside Story of the Harvey Weinstein Scandal is an unabashed exposé on the illicit activities of one of Tinseltown’s most illustrious film producers.
If you aren’t familiar with the industry giant and his brother Bob, their names once stood synonymous with the Miramax entertainment company, his being “a name thanked more than God at the Oscars”. With Academy Awards for films like Shakespeare in Love, and a slew of Tony’s for plays and musicals such as The Producers and Billy Elliot the Musical, Harvey Weinstein’s renown was matched only by his infamy for bad behaviour.
His long list of accolades and sprawling network of powerful connections acted as a shield against bad press, and the megalomania he displayed both in public and in private went largely ignored for the good part of his career. That was, until actress Rose McGowan broke the long paid-off silence.
McGowan’s memoir Brave detailed the painful details of her abuse, which outed a livid response from Weinstein. While she is not largely featured in the film, McGowan’s impact on the movement is evident. Her actions triggered an outpour of support and, more importantly, accusers from the growing #MeToo movement (including Lupita Nyong’o, Uma Thurman, and Salma Hayek). Macfarlane’s tale tells the harrowing stories of Weinstein’s victims – from former employees to movie stars – spanning over years of sexual harassment and ill treatment of men and women alike.
Other interviews feature a mix of ex-colleagues, victims, and investigative reporters. Most notably are the testimonies of journalists Andrew Goldman and Rebecca Traister, who encountered Weinstein’s wrath first-hand. Their scuffle with the self-proclaimed “sheriff of town” led to the acquiring of an infamous voice clip that would later expose the man of his corrupt inclinations. The film chronicles the misogyny and corruption that many face under the guise of “show business”, and the rise and fall of the ironically untouchable Hollywood superpower.
While we’re thankful for (relatively) lukewarm drama here in Singapore, we recommend this documentary for anyone looking to educate themselves on the manifestations of power relations between gender and status, that the truth eventually comes to light, and that no one person is ever truly “untouchable”.
Catch Untouchable: The Inside Story of the Harvey Weinstein Scandal on iwonder.