'Wind River' Director Expunges 'Toxic' Weinstein Name

By Tapley, Kristopher | Variety, November 28, 2017 | Go to article overview

'Wind River' Director Expunges 'Toxic' Weinstein Name


Tapley, Kristopher, Variety


Wind River" writer-director Taylor Sheridan believes the awards season has become an effective way to give films extra life. Artists aren't just looking to clear offmantle space for a trophy; this time of year is a megaphone for their messages.

"When you tell a story, you want the story to be heard," Sheridan says, calling from Utah, where he's in production on Paramount TV's "Yellowstone" series.

To say the least, that becomes a challenge when your distributor ends up so embroiled in scandal that it loses the infrastructure necessary to carry a small film like Sheridan's through the season.

"Wind River" tells the story of a Native American woman's rape and murder on the eponymous Indian reservation in Wyoming. The Weinstein Co. acquired the film out of the Cannes Film Market in 2016 and set it for an August release this year, where it outpaced expectations, accruing more than $30 million in domestic box office receipts. The distributor then began to pivot its awards strategy away from the critically maligned "The Current War" to Sheridan's success story as the season geared up in the wake of the Toronto International Film Festival.

The film's subject matter was important; Native American women have the highest rate of rape and assault, yet their stories are rarely heard. But once The New York Times broke its exposé on the sexual harassment and assault allegations against TWC chief Harvey Weinstein, it appeared that the journey and message of "Wind River" would get lost in the maelstrom. Sheridan couldn't stomach it.

"I made a movie about people who have no voice, and the cruel irony of having that voice silenced again by a cruel perpetrator - it was just too much," he says.

Sheridan went to Weinstein Co. chief operating officer David Glasser with a single option and no room for compromise: He and the film's financier, Acacia Entertainment, a company backed by the Tunica- Biloxi Tribe, would remove the Weinstein name "in every way" and fund an awards push themselves. …

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