UCF film community reacts to Weinstein allegations

Some UCF students are struggling with recent allegations accusing film producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct.

The New York Times broke the story on Oct. 5, with details of Weinstein’s decades-old settlements with sexual harassment accusers.

Weinstein has produced films such as “Pulp Fiction,” “Sin City” and “Fahrenheit 9/11.”

Since then, dozens of women have come forward with their own accusations in a little more than a month, according to a Google Doc compiled by several victims cataloging names and details of those who accused Weinstein.

Carolina Saco, a UCF film major who studied at the UCLA and interned at Primary Wave Entertainment in Los Angeles, California, during the summer, said most people she met in Hollywood were “aware of how horrible Harvey Weinstein is.”

“But no one ever expected it to be this bad,” Saco, 19, said. “I’m disappointed that it took this long when everybody’s been talking about it forever.”

In response to The New York Times’ breaking story about the allegations against him, Weinstein released an official statement.

“I appreciate the way I’ve behaved with colleagues in the past has caused a lot of pain, and I sincerely apologize for it,” according to the statement.  

Despite Weinstein’s apology, his spokeswoman Sallie Hofmiester was steadfast in rejecting the rising accusations against her client.

“Any allegations of non-consensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr. Weinstein,” Hofmiester said on Oct. 10.

On Oct. 10, The New Yorker published an extensive investigation, which included 13 additional accounts of sexual assault or harassment accusations against Weinstein between the 1990s and 2015, including an audio clip of Weinstein admitting to groping Filipina-Italian model Ambra Battilana Gutierrez.

UCF film professor and award-winning motion picture screenwriter Barry Sandler noted the difficulty of exposing abusers in the entertainment industry and praised the women coming out against Weinstein.

“[Weinstein] is one of those people that you can’t get around because they’re the ones with the money,” Sandler said. “He was in a power position that he could hurt someone’s career.

“And it’s terrible to live under that kind of pressure, to know that these horrible things were done to you and you can’t tell anyone.”

Some UCF film students responded to the allegations with shock and disappointment.

“A part of me didn’t want to believe it,” UCF student Fernando Andrade, 18, said. “Everyone knows Harvey Weinstein. He’s the producer, and one of the most powerful.”

With Weinstein’s impact on the film industry in mind, UCF students said they are finding it difficult to see their inspiration turn sour.

“He was a big influence to these people in their careers,” Andrade said. “Losing trust for your inspiration is difficult.”

Originally thought to have only dated back to the 1990s, recent accusers such as dancer Ashley Matthau and actress Cynthia Burr have expanded the range of accusations and settlements into the 1970s.

“Bravo to all of the women that are coming forward,” Sandler said. “In younger generations, and around the UCF campus, there is more of an attitude of respect, tolerance and acceptance.”  

Actresses like Cara Delevingne, Kate Beckingsale and Rose McGowan are among those who are telling their stories.

McGowan reported being allegedly raped by Weinstein to an unnamed studio head known by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, according to a tweet by McGowan on Oct. 12.

“He said it hadn’t been proven,” the tweet read. “I said I was the proof.”

After the overwhelming flow of accusations, UCF student Juanita Umaña, 19, said she can’t see herself watching movies produced by The Weinstein Company anymore.

“I was really disgusted by it,” she said. “It made me very nervous for my generation and other up and coming filmmakers trying to get into the industry.”

On Oct. 8, Weinstein was fired from his company, which he co-owned with his brother, Bob Weinstein. He resigned from The Weinstein Company board of directors 11 days later.

Noah Brockman, an 18-year-old UCF film major, said his “biggest shame” is that he loves films by Woody Allen, a famous filmmaker who faced monumental allegations of sexual abuse in the 1990s.

“It’s a struggle because I hate him as a person,” Brockman said. “Don’t pay for people’s movies if you don’t support them but still like their art.”

As a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences since 1977, Sandler said he recognizes the move to revoke Weinstein’s membership on Oct. 14 was an important decision.  

“They’re limited in what they can do,” he said. “But the fact that they did that was pretty major.”

Brockman still has doubts.

“I wanna believe them and the idea that this is not going to happen again,” Brockman said. “I hope they’re more consistent in enforcement, but I don’t have much hope.”

On Twitter, a hashtag campaign kicked off on Oct. 15 in which participants declared their first-hand experiences with harassment or assault with two simple words: “#MeToo.”

“I think it’s really brave,” Umaña said. “And admitting it becomes hard because it happens to so many people that it seems a little bit normalized.”