You know what I love most? Sitting in a darkened theater, watching light and color flash on the screen, wincing at an ill-timed crunch of popcorn during a silent moment, forgetting for two hours that there is an outside world.
You know what I fucking hate? Having to think about sexual assault, nervously looking around the theater, suspecting that someone with power within my field, maybe sitting in this audience, is guilty of either sexual assault or sympathizing with assaulters — and honestly, it’s gonna be multiple someones.
From Cinefamily to Drafthouse, y’all are pissing me off. It’s only been a few weeks since Hadrian Belove of Cinefamily stepped down after former employees accused him of sexual harassment. (Belove denies the allegations.) And now Drafthouse is fucking up what was slated to be the best week of the year for genre cinema fans at Fantastic Fest. Genre film fans from around the world should be descending upon Austin, Texas, on Sept. 20 for one epic shared experience of cinephilia. And while women are the slim minority at such a festival, the women who are there are the types of people anyone would quickly choose to captain their apocalypse survival team. These women are the backbone of the community. They deserve respect.
At Fantastic Fest, we should be thinking about film, griping about the movies we hate and defending the ones we adore with the passion of a thousand throat-ripping James Daltons. (Road House is a great film.) But now that we know Tim League had quietly hired back Devin Faraci just a month after Faraci stepped down from Birth.Movies.Death. and that Faraci is writing for the fest’s programs, we likely will not be talking about movies at all. No. Instead, all of us women who travel to the Lamar location of the Alamo Drafthouse now will have the topic of sexual assault on the tips of our tongues. And I’m fucking pissed about it. Who gets to lose themselves in the dark? Not us, apparently.
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Look, I already spend a fair bit of my time talking about sexual assault. But I also don’t want to spend all of my time on it. The world is often cruel to women, and devoting my attention solely to art on the screen is my preferred escape. Now even that’s being stolen from me and stolen from the women in the film community, as well as the men who stand with them, like Todd Brown, the international programmer for Fantastic Fest who just stepped down after the Faraci announcement.
League says that 10 months of healing and growth have been sufficient proof that Faraci — long a proud online bully and harasser who has publicly encouraged critics to kill themselves (shocking to learn) — is ready to be welcomed back. I absolutely think society should have a path forward for those who’ve done penance and the necessary work to change. I’m sure Faraci has done some of that. But what League needs to understand is that even if Faraci has changed for the better, there is a whole audience of women who may never feel comfortable supporting a theater chain that employs Faraci. League is risking the sanity and safety of Drafthouse’s loyal female fans.
So I’ll still be going to Fantastic Fest this year, because it is my job, and we need to have women’s voices at genre film festivals. I don’t know if I have to challenge Tim League to a wrestling match to work out this anger or what. Tim, you wanna wrestle? How about this: If I win, you consult with your female patrons before hiring any confirmed sexual assaulters. If I lose, you consult with your female patrons before hiring any confirmed sexual assaulters. Seems fair, right? I just have to warn you that I’m in a particularly throat-ripping mood.
Correction: This post was modified to clarify the nature of the allegations against Hadrian Belove.