Russell Simmons Accuser Documentary Filmmakers “Disappointed” In Oprah Exit, Will Still Premiere Film At Sundance

Kirby Dick & Amy Ziering
Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering Courtesy

EXCLUSIVE, updated with accucers’ statement: Documentary filmmakers Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering have responded to the news this afternoon about Oprah Winfrey’s withdrawal as EP, and cancellation of AppleTV+ distribution on their upcoming untitled documentary about music executive Drew Dixon, who accused Russell Simmons of sexual misconduct. As we heard previously, the doc will still make its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on Jan. 25 in the Documentary Section as indicated by the fimmakers below.

Untitled Amy Ziering Kirby Dick Sundance documentary

Below is Dick and Ziering’s response, exclusive to Deadline:

“Revealing hard truths is never easy, and the women in our documentary are all showing extraordinary strength and courage by raising their voices to address sexual abuse in the music industry. While we are disappointed that Oprah Winfrey is no longer an Executive Producer on the project, we are gratified that Winfrey has unequivocally said she believes and supports the survivors in the film.

The #MeToo experiences of black women deserve to be heard, especially against powerful men, so we will continue with our plans to bring the film to The Sundance Film Festival.  This film, more than two years in the making, will be our eighth film to premiere at Sundance.

Simmons’ accusers issued a statement of their own on Monday:

We are more than victims of rape. We are Black women. We are mothers, daughters, sisters and friends insisting on our right to live and work free from sexual violence and abuse. We will not back down, and we will not be silenced. We are not afraid. When we raised our anguished voices to say, “No! Stop! Don’t” to Russell Simmons, he ignored us. Now, as we raise our voices in defiance of a culture that protects abusers and their enablers, he has tried to discredit us and to deny our truth. Russell Simmons and his enablers cannot intimidate us, bully us or ignore us. Unyielding as a force, united in our resolve, we are black women standing with survivors of all colors and we will not be silenced. #silenceisviolence #ustoo #lifteveryvoice #metoo

The film is a beacon of hope for voices that have long been suppressed, and an inspiration for anyone wanting to regain their personal power.”

The documentary follows music exec Drew Dixon whose career and personal life were deeply affected by the abuse she faced from the men she admired in the industry she loves. The doc explores as she grapples with her decision to become one of the first women of color to come forward as part of the #MeToo movement. Dixon was the producer of hit records by 2Pac, Method Man, and Mary J. Blige.
Apple announced the doc back in early December.  Dick and producer Ziering, are the team behind the Oscar-nominated college campus rape doc expose The Hunting Ground and 2012’s The Invisible War. The Hunting Ground earned an Oscar nomination for Diane Warren-Lady Gaga original song “Til It Happens to You”. The Invisible War broke the story of the epidemic of rape in the U.S. military, leading to five congressional hearings and the passing of 35 reforms through Congress.
Their most recent film, The Bleeding Edge, follows the fast-growing medical device industry’s corruption and malfeasance, which compelled industry giant Bayer to remove one harmful device from the market, and is catalyzing a worldwide debate about regulation and patient safety.

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