Sundance addresses sexual assault scandals with new code of conduct for festivalgoers

SALT LAKE CITY — In the wake of sexual assault allegations that have stunned Hollywood and the nation, the Sundance Film Festival has revised its code of conduct to include new guidelines aimed at preventing sexual misconduct during the festival’s Jan. 18-28 run in Park City.

The festival has also partnered for the first time with the Utah Attorney General’s Office to provide a 24-hour live hotline to report violations of the policy.

Leo Lucey, chief of investigations for the Utah Attorney General’s Office, said law enforcement agents are expecting an uptick in the reporting of sexual harassment and assault at this year’s festival.

Lucey points out that more reporting doesn’t mean more harassment is taking place. Rather, law enforcement expects that in the current climate of heightened sensitivity to this issue, people will feel more comfortable reporting incidents when they do occur.

“This kind of behavior is not going to be tolerated,” Lucey told the Deseret News. “The state of Utah takes this issue very seriously and law enforcement is committed to keeping everyone at the festival safe.”

The new code of conduct, posted within the past week on the Sundance Festival website and app, states that Sundance is committed to allowing attendees an experience “free of harassment, discrimination and threatening or disrespectful behavior.”

It also states that the festival reserves the right to revoke credentials or access to festival events to “those that engage in such conduct.”

“Safety and security remain our top priority,” said Betsy Wallace, managing director of the Sundance Institute. “By increasing our communication with festivalgoers around our existing code of conduct, we are making sure our longstanding values of inclusivity and respect are front and center.”

Setting the standard

The new policy comes more than three months after allegations of sexual assault and harassment against Hollywood mega-producer Harvey Weinstein first came to light.

Since October 2017, more than 90 women have come forward to accuse Weinstein of sexual harassment, assault or rape — and many of these incidents were alleged to have occurred at film festivals, including two during Sundance events.

Former actor and screenwriter Louisette Geiss appeared at an Oct. 10 news conference with prominent women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred, accusing Weinstein of exposing himself to her in a Park City hotel in 2008.

The New York Times’ initial report mentioned that Weinstein reached an out-of-court settlement with Rose McGowan, then a 23-year-old actor, after an episode during the 1997 Sundance Film Festival.

Sundance is the largest independent film festival in the United States and the first major festival since the Weinstein story broke. How festival organizers and attendees react to a scandal, which has shaken the entertainment industry to its core, could set a standard for festivals and events to follow.

The code of conduct is the Sundance Institute’s latest response to the Weinstein allegations.

In a public statement issued in October, the Sundance Institute and Film Festival called the accusations against Weinstein “abhorrent and profoundly disturbing” and praised the “courageous women whose honesty has helped shed a light on (a pattern of …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Utah News


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