Harvey Weinstein, whose Weinstein Co is releasing the just-annointed Un Certain Regard Best Director winner Wind River domestically, accepted the award on behalf of Taylor Sheridan tonight. Both a message from Sheridan, which Weinstein read, along with his own message, included strong words for the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump with regard to continued injustice toward Native Americans.
A timely thriller, Wind River follows a game tracker (Jeremy Renner) and an FBI agent (Elizabeth Olsen) who go on a manhunt for the murderer of a Native American teenage girl on Wyoming’s Wind River Indian Reservation. At the time the film was made, the U.S. government clashing with protesters and the community of the Standing Rock Indian Reservation over the Dakota Access Pipeline was not yet an issue. Times have changed.
Weinstein, in his own words, addressed the jury telling them they have “shined a spotlight on an important issue and lit a fuse under us — one that the new administration must be taken to task on. They passed the baton to us and we’ll do our job.”
This is the third year in a row that Sheridan, the Sicario and Hell Or High Water writer, has a film in Official Selection at the Cannes Film Festival. But, Wind River marks his directorial debut on the Croisette. He’d already headed back home to Utah ahead of tonight’s prize ceremony and so Weinstein took the stage to read impassioned remarks on his behalf.
Reading from Sheridan’s missive, Weinstein thanked the festival “for the honor of showing my work here” as well as the UCR jury and his cast and crew.
Further, Sheridan (via Weinstein) said, “The Tribal Councils of the Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone Nations not only allowed me to tell this story, but embraced me and lent me their assistance in every way asked. It is a great shame of my nation the manner it has treated the original inhabitants of North America. Sadly, my government continues that shame through an insidious mixture of apathy and exploitation. There is nothing I can do to change the issues afflicting Indian Country, but what we can all do as artists — and must do — is scream about them with fists clenched. What we CAN do is make sure these issues aren’t ignored. Then the people who CAN effect change will be forced to.”