Their voices brought swift changes to the film industry. And the world.
Today, TIME Magazine announced its Person of the Year: the Silence Breakers—all of the women who stepped forward to share their stories of sexual assault and harassment, encouraging each other to come forward, creating a wave of revelations and helping some men who are also victims find their voices, too.
As TIME points out, what appeared to be an overnight change has been brewing for decades (centuries, really). This current movement began two months ago when Ashley Judd went on the record with The New York Times about Harvey Weinstein trying to sexually coerce her in a hotel room in what Judd thought was supposed to be a business breakfast meeting. A few days later, The New Yorker released a story about its own 10-month investigation that included 13 on-the-record stories from Weinstein's victims. Actresses and filmmakers including Rose McGowan, Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow, Rosanna Arquette, Heather Graham, and many, many more spoke out about how Weinstein had mistreated them.
In a tweet, Alyssa Milano encouraged followers to reply "me too," a phrase originally used in this context by Tarana Burke years before, if they had ever been sexually harassed or assaulted. In what truly was an overnight change, #MeToo caught fire, and has now been used millions of times in at least 85 countries.
In the two months since that initial story broke in The New York Times, millions of women, and many men, too, have found the courage to speak up, be heard, and more importantly, be believed about how they have been the victims of sexual assault and harassment. The reckoning for sexual predators has been most prominent and prevalent in the entertainment and media industry, but has reached into almost every industry as the world, from strawberry pickers in the fields to workers in the hospitality industry to employees in Silicon Valley.
TIME Magazine also took a moment to recognize another female filmmaker who made a major breakthrough in 2017. Patty Jenkins, director of Wonder Woman, was recognized as one of the runners-up as Person of the Year (and curiously, the only woman on the short list). To date, Wonder Woman has pulled in over $820 million at the worldwide box office, more than any other live-action movie directed by a woman. Both critics and audiences raved about the film as it became the most successful superhero origin story in history.
Jenkins accomplished this by creating a resonant origin story that didn't follow the formula. As the director tells TIME, Diana Prince becomes Wonder Woman to stop a war, not start one: "It was much more symbolic of ‘I say no to what you all are doing, how you all are living your life. I still love you. I’m still engaged with you. I still understand it’s complicated. But I say no to this. To shooting people from afar who you cannot see, I say no.'"
Head over to TIME to read more about the Silence Breakers as Person of the Year and runner-up Patty Jenkins' accomplishments. To hear more about our take on the initial Weinstein stories and impact of the silence breakers on the film industry, check out two of our past podcast episodes of Indie Film Weekly here and here.