Backlight: The Film Industry Is Toxic But There’s Still Hope

This week, we saw more news around Weinstein (who’s shocked?) but it hasn’t all been grim. People within the industry are standing up and making a difference, whether it’s through sharing their stories, breaking ties with The Weinstein Company, or focusing their efforts on better causes. We also have some exciting and heartwarming projects from diverse creators, which is a timely reminder not to lose all hope in the film and television industry.

The Weinstein Debacle Continues But It’s Not All Bad News

This week saw more stories of sexual harassment, including Amanda Segel’s accusations of Bob Weinstein and Lupita Nyong’o’s account of Harvey Weinstein over at the New York Times. It’s clear that harassment and abuse are rife within the industry – and go way beyond the Weinsteins alone – but finally, some people are taking small steps to make a difference.

Kevin Smith has discussed his feelings of shame around working with Harvey Weinstein in light of the news, but the feelings and thoughts of men within the film industry don’t mean much to the survivors still living in the systems that perpetuate abuse. Smith announced he is doing the bare minimum to challenge the rotting industry, by donating all earnings from his films made with Weinstein to Women In Film.

Meanwhile, Amazon looks set to cut ties with The Weinstein Company by dropping an untitled David O. Russell production and moving other shows, like The Romanoffs, forward without The Weinstein Co. Meanwhile, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Quiara Alegría Hudes are attempting to reclaim the rights to In The Heights from The Weinstein Co. Whilst these may only be small challenges to a toxic culture, they’re an important reminder that harassment and abuse remains unacceptable to many within the industry.

Cool Projects From Cool People

Riz Ahmed is developing a contemporary take on Hamlet with Netflix, and is looking to star in the production. The adaptation will be set in London, using Britain’s current sociopolitical uncertainty to explore themes of honour, duty, and morality. Ahmed, who is an outspoken activist on racism and immigrant issues, is likely to use Hamlet to critically examine modern British social systems.

Netflix has announced its first Indian kids’ show, titled Mighty Little Bheem. Due for release in 2018, the animation is aimed at pre-schoolers and follows Bheem on wacky adventures. Netflix will develop Mighty Little Bheem alongside three other Indian originals: Selection Day, Sacred Games, and Again, the latter featuring a female lead in a supernatural detective show.

Also in India, a biopic on Urdu writer Saadat Hasan Manto is set to release in 2018. The film is directed by Nandita Das and set to star Nawazuddin Siddiqui as Manto. Manto wrote on the human cost and sociopolitical consequences of Partition, and faced trials on charges of obscenity for his writing in both Pakistan and India.

The new Animation Is Film Festival has launched with the aim of showcasing top animation features from around the world. The festival wants to increase Oscar visibility for diverse animations, as well as getting pictures out to a wider audience. Films at the inaugural event include Mary & The Witch’s Flower, a witchy kids’ film from Japan, and Tehran Taboo from director Ali Soozandeh about sociopolitical rebellion in Iran.

Jussie Smollett stars as Langston Hughes in a cameo in recently-released Marshall – and now he wants to do a full-length biopic on the poet and activist. Nothing has been finalised yet, but a biopic could explore Hughes’ role as one of the founders of the Harlem Renaissance as well as his activism and queer identity.

Lena Waithe’s The Chi dropped a trailer, and it looks incredible. The Showtime series features a coming-of-age narrative centred on African-Americans in Chicago. The trailer gives us a taste of the drama and lush visuals we can expect. It also includes a kiss between two Black women, which could be a major win for queer Black femmes, who are vastly underrepresented on our screens.


Zainabb Hull

Zainabb Hull

Zainabb Hull is a disabled, queer, and brown freelance writer and sort-of artist. You can find them screaming about screens and raging against colonialism on Twitter at @ZainabbHull.