‘A Long-Awaited Reckoning’: Hollywood after Weinstein

On 5th October, New York Times journalists Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey published a story detailing decades of sexual harrassment allegations against Hollywood mega-producer Harvey Weinstein. This predatory behaviour had been part of the rumour mill for years, but previous attempts to publish anything substantial had fallen foul of Weinstein’s far-reaching influence.

This article went off in Hollywood like a bomb. Within days, Weinstein had been sacked, and more women were coming forward. On 10th October, the New Yorker published a piece by journalist Ronan Farrow accusing Weinstein of many more counts of sexual harassment and assault. High-profile actresses like Angelina Jolie and Gwyneth Paltrow joined the chorus.

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And it didn’t stop there. Emboldened, women – and men – across the entertainment industry spoke about their own experiences of being sexually harassed, assaulted and intimated at work. Their stories implicated Kevin Spacey,  Steven Segal, producer Brett Ratner, comedian Louis CK, and many more. They lifted a lid on a toxic culture where powerful men feel entitled to do whatever they want, without fearing consequences.

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‘Everyone’s a winner’: Reflecting on our partnership with Mothers’ Union

Damaris Media CEO Tim Waldron blogs about his time at the Mothers’ Union General Meeting in Edinburgh

We’re thrilled to have partnered with Mothers’ Union to spread the word about Victoria & Abdul, the historical drama still charming audiences in UK cinemas.

Companion Booklet cover (MU) Queen Victoria was the first Royal Patron of Mothers’ Union. The organisation believes in the power of relationships to bring down barriers – and Victoria & Abdul tells the story of the most unlikely friendship in history.

We worked with Mothers’ Union to create a special companion booklet offering a glimpse behind the scenes of the film, and a chance to reflect on themes of reconciliation and ‘welcoming the stranger’ – ideas close to the organisation’s heart.

Mothers’ Union is an international charity that aims to demonstrate the Christian faith in action through the transformation of communities worldwide. They work with people of all faiths and none in
83 countries to promote stable marriage, family life and the protection of children.

Download the companion booklet on the Mothers' Union website
Download the companion booklet on the Mothers’ Union website

Last weekend I was able to take a (pleasingly short) flight up from Southampton to Edinburgh, and join in with the Mothers’ Union General Meeting. This gathering, which takes place every year, is a day of fellowship, celebration and inspiration, welcoming members and non-members from across the UK. The theme this year was ‘Faith in Action’, featuring a keynote speech from Canon Sarah Snyder, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s top advisor.

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Damaris Media aims to build sustainable, mutually beneficial relationships with community groups, and it was fantastic to meet lots of people who had used and loved our Victoria & Abdul resources. The feedback we got from delegates was extremely positive and there was a real sense of buzz around the topic of our partnership, which was highlighted on the main stage as a great new venture for the Mothers’ Union team. People were impressed with the quality of the resources – and they loved the film.

‘We had a wonderful branch outing to see the film; Our members all thoroughly enjoyed it.’ – North Yorkshire branch

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I heard countless stories of groups seeing and enjoying the film together – there was even a group of delegates going to see the movie that evening in Edinburgh! Others had left their branches strict instructions to see the movie over the weekend so that they could use our Companion Booklet at next week’s branch meeting.

I left the gathering feeling hugely encouraged about the impact of what we do: our work with Mothers’ Union is a prime example of how our partnerships work. The film company covers the costs, Damaris Media works with the community group’s central body – and as a result, local groups get a valued opportunity. Everyone’s a winner!

Sweet Dreams are made of these

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Sophie faceLast night we screened Fai bei sogni (or Sweet Dreams), the new film from director Marco Bellochio, at the beautiful Hospital Club in Covent Garden. We invited a group of people involved in various aspects of Italian life in the UK, including lecturers, scientists, and representatives from the Italian embassy and the Italian Chamber of Commerce.

Sweet Dreams follows the story of Massimo (Nicolò Cabras), a sensitive and introverted young boy who loses his beloved mother (Barbara Ronchi) in a sudden tragedy. Drawing on his rich fantasy life to help him cope, Massimo grows up into a withdrawn man (Valerio Mastandrea) who is unable to make real emotional connections. 

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That Loving Feeling

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Take particular note of the delicious seaweed crackers on the left

Sophie face

We put on a screening! Two screenings, actually – one for leaders in the Christian community, and one for the folks at NUS.

I was lucky enough to attend the first, after an impromptu driving tour of central London courtesy of a series of unexpected diversions in the middle of rush hour. Universal have offices in the rather swish Central Saint Giles, near a guitar emporium named ‘Stairway To Kevin’.

Stairway to Kevin
Stairway to Kevin

The film itself is a slow burn but a powerful one, and it was great to watch the drama unfold in a room full of spellbound people. It’s a story to be absorbed by rather than a conventional crowd-pleaser, but nonetheless there were laughs at some of the lighter moments and a few audible intakes of breath. Like Spotlight before it, Loving  eschews melodrama – but it still has the power to shock.

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