Wind River, starring Elizabeth Olsen and Jeremy Renner, is on the Oscar campaign trail and has just extricated itself from the Weinstein name. Though The Weinstein Company (TWC) bought and shepherded the film’s theatrical release, recent events have led director Taylor Sheridan, along with Olsen and Renner, to spearhead a cutting of ties, especially given the subject matter of the film.
Wind River is gunning to be nominated for several Academy Awards; Renner and Olsen for Actor and Actress, respectively, and Sheridan for Director. Sheridan took home the Best Director award at the Cannes Film Festival and the film was nominated for Prix Un Certain Regard (films told in non-traditional ways) and Camera d’Or (best first feature film). So, there’s a chance that a movie speaking out against rape and exploitation of women could take home a gold statue, after giving a big middle finger to a man who perpetuated the Hollywood culture of sexual harassment and exploitation of women.
Wind River shines a light on the prevalence of the rape of Native American women on reservations, in hopes that the film will help bring awareness and call others to action to end the devastating exploitation of women. Per Deadline, the irony of TWC funding the film amidst Weinstein’s now exposed history of blatant and consistent sexual harassment of women has led to an official deal that will remove Weinstein’s name from all award season screeners, home video releases via Lionsgate, and streaming release through Netflix. The film’s Oscar campaign will now be fully funded by Acacia Entertainment rather than TWC, in order to further distance the film from its financial ties.
The creative voices of Wind River sit so intimately with the subject matter, it’s no wonder they want to shake loose of TWC ties. Olsen herself volunteers at a rape treatment center and uses her platform to empower women and speak for women’s rights. The story literally hits home for Sheridan, who has spent most of his career as an actor, most popular for playing David Hale on Sons of Anarchy, and who lives on a ranch in Utah, where he became familiar with the Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone communities. After hearing their stories, he was inspired to write and direct the piece.
Wind River follows a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agent (Renner) who finds a frozen body of an 18-year-old Native American woman with brunt sexual trauma and exploded lungs from cold exposure, after fleeing her sexual assailant. She was the best friend of the agent’s daughter, who also died three years earlier. Olsen plays a young FBI agent who comes to investigate, bringing a female perspective to the case.
The news is another act of solidarity within the industry, which has seen many sectors stand up against the underbelly “casting couch” culture, which blatantly uses sexual assault and harassment to take advantage of both men and women in less powerful positions. The culture has existed in secret for far too long, and Hollywood is finally saying, “Enough.”
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