Harvey loses UK film honour

The British Film Institute has withdrawn its Fellowship, the highest honour the organisation can award, from Harvey Weinstein.

By Amit Roy in London
  • Published 21.10.17
Harvey Weinstein

London: The British Film Institute has withdrawn its Fellowship, the highest honour the organisation can award, from Harvey Weinstein.

"The serious and widespread allegations about Harvey Weinstein's appalling conduct are in direct opposition to the BFI's values," the BFI said.

"The BFI Board has met and decided to withdraw the BFI Fellowship awarded to Harvey Weinstein in 2002," it added.

The honour had been awarded jointly to Harvey, 65, and his brother Bob, 63, whose honour apparently remains stays although some claims of sexual harassment have also been levelled against the younger brother.

The brothers co-founded The Weinstein Company which has now removed Harvey from the board.

The BFI Fellowship was set up in 1983 when Satyajit Ray was honoured. He remains the only Indian to have received a Fellowship.

The BFI is "a film and charitable organisation which promotes and preserves filmmaking and television in the United Kingdom".

"A BFI Fellowship is the highest honour we can bestow, awarded by the BFI's board of governors to individuals for their outstanding contribution to film and television," the BFI explained. It went on: "Sexual harassment, abuse and bullying are unacceptable under any circumstances. Everyone working in the film industry - in any industry - should be safe and respected in the workplace.

"We wholeheartedly support those brave enough to come forward and speak out. The film industry needs more women represented on every level, on and off screen.

"Advocating for better inclusion and representation is central to the BFI's strategic priorities. We are acting urgently by gathering together a wide range of industry partners, and with advice from Acas (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service), to jointly develop a new set of principles to address bullying and harassment and help people in the industry to be better supported.

"This new set of principles will be incorporated in the BFI's Diversity Standards, which we are strongly encouraging the screen industries to adopt."

In Hollywood, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the body which decides on the Oscars, was quick to vote to expel Weinstein "to send a message that the era of wilful ignorance and shameful complicity in sexually predatory behaviour and workplace harassment in our industry is over".

In the UK, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (Bafta) has merely suspended Weinstein's membership. It runs what it considers the British equivalent of the Oscars. But these are given in remarkably generous quantities to Americans, not least because the British acting fraternity and technical depend to a great extent on Hollywood for their sustenance.

Bafta is almost obsequious in its dealings with Hollywood. Anyone from Hollywood who turns up on Bafta night in

Covent Garden is given either a prize or allowed to present one in an effort to massage their egos. They are also given front row seats so that cameras can keep focusing on those who have done Bafta a favour by turning up.

Over the years, Americans to whom Bafta has given a fellowship - a lifetime achievement award - include Fred Zinnemann, John Huston, Sam Spiegel, Steven Spielberg, Billy Wilder, Woody Allen, Stanley Kubrick, Warren Beatty, Sidney Poitier, Mel Brooks, and Martin Scorsese.

No one from Indian cinema - not even Satyajit Ray - has been so honoured. However, Bollywood has a big market in the UK.