Harvey Weinstein has responded to rantings from conservative columnist Brent Bozell about his latest film Philomena, after the right-wing pundit used both print and broadcast outlets to attack the powerhouse producer for what he called “a hatred of Catholics”.
Weinstein — calling Bozell’s claims “honestly ridiculous” — aptly points out that his agenda is driven nothing more than “good storytelling.”
He said that three of his films — My Left Foot (Irish Catholic), Days of Glory (Muslim) and Price Above Rubies (Hasidic Judaism) have focused on protagonists of varied religious beliefs.
“I take risks with my film choices because their stories are worth exploring and need to be told — not because they advance my own personal beliefs or politics,” Weinstein said.
As for Philomena, Weinstein said that “the film’s social commentary shouldn’t be confused with hatred,” adding that “without social commentary in serious movies, we wouldn’t have much worth looking at.
“At least that’s my opinion.”
Check Out Harvey’s full letter:
I was truly taken aback when I heard you said I have a “hatred of Catholics”. Your saying that is honestly ridiculous. My mother and my father raised my brother Bob and me to be fair and open-minded people and would never allow any prejudices in their home.
You claimed that I look for opportunities to go after Catholics in a way that I would never do to Muslims when in fact my films examine many faiths and my selection of them relates only to good storytelling. If something is praise worth, I want to celebrate it.
The characters in My Left Foot which I made with Daniel Day Lewis are Irish Catholic. They overcome great circumstances and are to be celebrated. A Price Above Rubies took a very critical look at the life of a Hasidic Jewish woman and the controlling life and home she was forced to live under. Days of Glory told the story and mistreatment of 4 Muslim soldiers who were a part of the Allied forces during WWII in North Africa and the discrimination they faced during and after the war. The reaction to Days of Glory was so strong that the French prime minister apologized for their treatment. Miral was a film I made that got criticized by the Jewish groups for being too pro-Palestinian. And those are only a few examples.
I take risks with my film choices because their stories are worth exploring and need to be told – not because they advance my own personal beliefs or politics. Philomena isn’t a film about hating the Catholic Church. The real Philomena Lee is still a Catholic and has forgiven the church and nuns that took her son away from her. As Judi Dench says in the film, it’s about forgiveness and love, not about hatred. The film’s social commentary shouldn’t be confused with hatred. The films I am most proud of have remarked in some way on the conditions that society forces on the individual. Without social commentary in serious movies, we wouldn’t have much worth looking at. At least that’s my opinion.
One of the great highlights of my life was when the pope invited me to a screening at the Vatican for a movie I worked on called Life is Beautiful. Unfortunately we had a number of conflicts with the company at that time and I had to ask Roberto Benigni to represent all of us. He went and the reaction from the Vatican was astounding and rather beautiful. The Pope even issued a statement of how much he loved the film. I still keep in touch with the people in the Vatican so I would be delighted to show Philomena to them. I will share your comments about my being anti-Catholicism and I will let a higher authority decide that one.
While I myself am not Catholic, I will say that I couldn’t agree more with Time Magazine naming Pope Francis the Person of the Year. He has shown the bravery of his convictions and the strength of his leadership. It’s my greatest hope to have Pope Francis see this film and Philomena Lee’s story.
Wishing you and your family a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year,