UPDATE, WRITETHRU with further details: The Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts on Sunday said it has “officially rescinded” its offer of the AACTA International Fellowship to disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein. Somewhat confusingly, the award was actually announced four years ago, but never presented after a planned event at the 2013 Canberra Film Festival which Weinstein was unable to attend. Per AACTA’s 2013 Year In Review publication, Weinstein was then due to receive it in 2014. Ultimately, the transfer of the prize never materialized.
AACTA has reportedly faced some criticism lately over its slowness to officially revoke the offer, and sought to clarify the situation on Sunday.
In its statement, AACTA said, “Recently it has been pointed out that as an organisation, we neglected to revoke a historic AACTA Award to Harvey Weinstein when his predatory behaviour was revealed last month… This award was, in fact, never actually presented — the event planned for the presentation was cancelled. However, our communications in 2013/14 did not make it clear that Weinstein no longer held the award and has rightly caused some confusion.” (See the full statement below.)
On Tuesday, AACTA responded to Deadline’s inquiry as to why, in the intervening years, and before the recent barrage of sexual assault and harassment allegations against Weinstein, the award was not bestowed. The clarification on that is also below.
The AACTA Awards were rebranded in 2012 as a continuum of the Australian Film Institute Awards which were established in 1958. They have increased overseas exposure with the annual AACTA International Awards Ceremony taking place in Los Angeles, typically at the start of each year.
Nominees for the 2017 competitive International Awards have not yet been announced, but AACTA’s homegrown movie and TV contenders were revealed in late October, possibly causing another Weinstein confusion. Leading the pack is Lion, the 2016 Garth Davis-directed drama produced by UK-Australia banner See-Saw Films. This is a film that The Weinstein Co acquired in a $12M 2014 Cannes deal, and which was championed by Harvey Weinstein throughout last awards season — it scored six Oscar nominations earlier this year, including Best Picture. But in the Cannes arrangement, TWC had taken world rights excluding Australia and New Zealand where Transmission released in January of this year.
Here’s AACTA’s full statement regarding the International Fellowship situation:
“AACTA’s aim is to recognise, encourage, promote and celebrate film and television excellence in Australia. We also recognise our role in working with our members in upholding standards in our industry that we can all be proud of, including the provision of a safe and respectful workplace.
“Recently it has been pointed out that as an organisation, we neglected to revoke a historic AACTA Award to Harvey Weinstein when his predatory behaviour was revealed last month. In November 2013, AACTA announced Weinstein as the inaugural AACTA International Fellowship recipient in acknowledgment of his support of independent and innovative filmmaking.
“This award was, in fact, never actually presented – the event planned for the presentation was cancelled.
“However, our communications in 2013/14 did not make it clear that Weinstein no longer held the award and has rightly caused some confusion.
“We have now officially rescinded the offer of the award and stand with our associates, including the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in America, in exploring what we can do to further protect both our members and those in the wider screen industry.”
Tuesday statement from AACTA:
The event at which the International Fellowship was to be presented, the ‘Body of Work’ Canberra International Film Festival event, was a collaboration between a number of organisations. The event was postponed as Weinstein was unable to attend and, ultimately, the various parties involved and elements required weren’t able to be lined up again for the event to take place. The endeavour simply fizzled out and was never revived.
One of the foundations of the event and the International Fellowship was to celebrate Weinstein’s contribution to the Australian film industry in person, in Australia. Therefore, the Academy did not move forward with the Award when the event wasn’t able to proceed.