The former longtime director of the Berlin Film Festival, Moritz de Hadeln, has publicly come to the defense of disgraced mogul Harvey Weinstein. In an opinion piece penned for Swiss daily Die Weltwoch, de Hadeln calls Weinstein, who has been accused of sexual harassment or assault by dozens of women and is under investigation by British police over allegations made by 10 people, “one of the few Hollywood producers who really loved the movies… The lynching he is now experiencing is simply disgusting.”
De Hadeln ran Berlin for more than 20 years before leaving in 2001. He then took over the Venice Film Festival for two years, replaced by Marco Mueller in 2004. Other posts have included a short-lived, controversial Montreal fest and the Locarno and Nyon Film Festivals in Switzerland.
In his op-ed, de Hadeln, one of the only film industry figures to have shown public support of Weinstein, points to the now famous Le Monde letter penned by several prominent French women including Catherine Deneuve, that defended flirtatious behavior and a man’s right to importune.
He says that although Weinstein “has not yet been convicted by a court of law for the crimes that numerous women accuse him of, the people’s voice denies him the right not to be guilty.”
Further, he contends, “Weinstein’s private life was influenced by the environment in which they worked. You cannot justify everything, but you cannot completely hide it. Film is an art that evokes the emotions of the audience. It sometimes demands everything from the actors, sometimes also expressing eroticism in front of the camera. And then the public demands that in private life they should resist any temptation and be icons of puritanism. That is simply hypocritical.”
De Hadeln also takes a swipe at the current chiefs of other major festivals, “Banishing Harvey means removing an important trump card from European cinema: a person who appreciates auteur films and whose knowledge has allowed important works to succeed.”
Finally, he concludes his defensive missive, “At the risk of recharging the wrath of some feminists: I wish they could do a more balanced job with Harvey Weinstein, whose professional achievements are undeniable… When there are criminal offenses, the judiciary must intervene, but producers, associations, institutions and media should not presume to replace the judiciary.”