by writer/director Kitty Green
Three years ago, I was beginning work on a film about sexual consent and power, traveling to colleges across the United States to talk to students about how they were educated or taught about consent. I was at Stanford, meeting with a group of survivors who were exploring performance art as a means of education, when the Harvey Weinstein story broke. All of a sudden the subject of consent and abuse of power were being discussed by the mainstream in more urgent ways. And while I was amazed to see predators being named and shamed, I also knew that there was so much more to this story. As a female filmmaker, I have experienced and witnessed sexual misconduct, some of which is easy to talk about and some of it more difficult. Making The Assistant is a way to bring my own perspective, as well as my own questions and even confusions, to the surface, in a way that I hope will bring audiences to a keener sense of the lived realities behind the headlines.
And so I shifted the focus of my project to the systems and institutions that keep predators in power and, more importantly, lock women out, and of how the daily experience of those systems feel—physically, emotionally, spiritually—to those who live them. I reached out to former employees of Miramax and The Weinstein Company to speak with them about the gender imbalance within those companies, and spoke to many more women and men at other companies and in other industries. I sat down with countless women who told me stories of being silenced and worn down by a system that was inherently structured against them. With this project, I am focusing not on the men at the top, but at how the assistants and low-level executives are pressed into this system of abuse, even as they struggle against these power structures. Therein lies the delicate and human tragedy of our protagonist Jane. Her story is as important and heartbreaking as any that could be told about the boldface names currently dominating the headlines, and I hope our time spent with her as she goes about her work day will help us all begin to listen more thoughtfully to the millions of real-life Janes who have been silenced and made invisible.