Once an Oscars mainstay, Harvey Weinstein has bid farewell to his days of winning film awards. And this year’s only awards-caliber film that bears his name now wants nothing to do with him.
Wind River, an award-winning film released by The Weinstein Company in August, is severing all ties with the distributor in the wake of the dozens of sexual harassment allegations against its co-founder, according to Deadline. All mentions of Weinstein will be removed from the film’s home video and streaming releases, and its awards campaign will instead be managed by Acacia Entertainment, the production company that also provided the film’s modest $10 million budget.
Directed by Taylor Sheridan, who got an Oscar nomination last year for penning the Western Hell or High Water, Wind River follows a rookie FBI agent (Elizabeth Olsen) and a US government wildlife tracker (Jeremy Renner) as they work together to solve the murder of a young woman on the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming. Ironically, the film is about sexual abuse and the unheard voices of Native American women who are subjected to it at alarming rates.
The film earned Sheridan a directing prize at the Cannes Film Festival in May, and was seen as a legitimate (if a bit of an underdog) Oscar candidate before the Weinstein scandal erupted. Gil Birmingham’s heartbreaking performance as the grieving father of the murdered woman was one of the best supporting roles I’ve seen this year.
Deadline reported that Sheridan and the film’s two stars, Olsen and Renner, lobbied to remove The Weinstein Company’s attachment to Wind River. All future income from the film that would have gone to the company will now reportedly be donated to the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center, a charity that supports battered Native American women.
The swift excision could serve as a blueprint for other films that want to break ties with disgraced figures. But it also raises a number of questions: Should Weinstein’s name be erased from the history of this film? Does the film deserve to be judged on its own merits, or should it immediately be written off because of the company that backed it? And was this move made as an earnest gesture of goodwill, or solely to preserve the film’s dwindling Oscar chances?