Filmmaker Jessica M. Thompson's Nov. 1 release debut film as an auteur director, "The Light of the Moon," has Stephanie Beatriz ("Brooklyn Nine-Nine") as a woman struggling to resume her life after a sexual attack. The feature has garnered excellent reviews and enthusiastic festival response, including the SXSW Narrative Feature Audience Award. Ironically, Harvey Weinstein's Weinstein Co. sought to pick it up for distribution.
"Because of the rumors, our sales agent said, 'I don't know that this is the right choice,' and we all agreed," recalls Thompson, referring to industry-wide whispering about predatory sexual behavior by the now-ousted Weinstein Co.'s co-founder.
Instead, "The Light of the Moon" is being released by Imagination Worldwide/The Film Collaborative, a newer company focusing on women and gender parity in the industry. "Light of the Moon" also had a majority female crew.
Thompson has been taking in the news stories about Weinstein and the subsequent outpouring of #MeToo declarations by women subjected to sexual assault and harassment with a multitude of feelings -- from heartbreak and appreciation on behalf of friends and colleagues sharing their stories, to a sense of "pride to be a part of that dialogue."
As far as the current headlines making her film seem particularly relevant, she notes, "It was relevant two and a half years ago when, on Day One of production, the Stanford rape case news broke."
Then, when "The Light of the Moon" premiered at SXSW in March, Bill Cosby's trial was underway, and "it was relevant again," she notes.
A part of the movie business since she was a 12-year-old actress in her native Australia, she is used to hearing rumors and reports of sexual predators in the industry. She also recalls the strangeness of having her face and body scrutinized for roles at a young age, including having her fingers measured by a male casting director at "14, 15 years old."
She's experienced inequities first-hand.
"I remember finding out that my male assistant editor was earning more than me," notes the Australia University of Technology Sydney alumna, who spent 10 years as a film editor (and who, by the way, counts a male one-time classmate and other men with whom she works as some of her greatest supporters).
Notes Thompson, "I do feel a positive change has happened, and we're now seeing the last of the old white men in control of the industry. Look at the production companies owned by women like Jessica Chastain and Margot Robbie."
On the other hand, "I do sometimes get the feeling, when pitching in Hollywood, that I am the token woman."
Next, Thompson heads to Canada as an apprentice director on "The Handmaid's Tale," and she has a sci-fi project in the works that she says "deals with the way we treat 'the other.'"
"The Light of the Moon" has already been picked up by Amazon for North American streaming rights, but audiences will have to wait until next March for home viewing of the drama that also stars a very likeable Michael Stahl-David as Beatriz' boyfriend.
Here's hoping there won't be more news to make it relevant again at that time.Copyright 2017 Creators Syndicate Inc.