An Open Letter to the Chicago Film Community:
The Chicago film industry continues to enjoy record-breaking growth and development. But there’s one change we are not seeing fast enough — an unequivocal rejection of the culture of sexism, misogyny, and discrimination that has long dominated this business. If our community is to continue to thrive, we must commit ourselves to an inclusive work environment that welcomes and empowers all. We are not there yet, and we have a long way to go.
We have recently witnessed a seismic shift in acknowledging these issues, as an avalanche of allegations against power-brokers has revealed a system built on abuse. Unfortunately, none of the alleged conduct is unusual or even surprising. Many of us in the Chicago film industry are well aware of such conduct happening right here on our own sets, in our production offices, at our festivals, and in our schools.
We are better than this. We cannot allow this toxic culture to exist any longer, and we ask our peers to take a collective stand against the entrenched sexism and misogyny of our industry. This requires far more than just “calling out” or publicly shaming a few individuals for their distasteful conduct. We need to implement a ground-level shift in how we understand and deal with sexual harassment and discrimination of all kinds against all members of our community.
Change of this magnitude must happen both at an individual level and at an institutional level. Each of us must look inwards at what we can do personally, and outwards at what we can do through our organizations. And we must work together as a committed network of industry leaders to forge the way forward.
To every producer, investor, director, film professor, casting agent, programmer, department head, cast member and crew member — this is on all of us. No one else is going to do this. Together, we have an incredible opportunity to create the industry that we want to work in.
To that end, and inspired by our friends and colleagues in the Chicago theater community who have created the Chicago Theatre Standards, we are embarking on a similar initiative to codify a shared set of values regarding sexual harassment, assault, and discrimination. Together, we can affect industry-wide change and build a better arts community that supports and sustains artists of all gender, racial, religious, and cultural identities.
We are in the process of putting together a town hall meeting to discuss these efforts, sign here to join the conversation. The culmination of this initiative will be a clear and powerful statement of values that our industry can proudly stand behind.
With much love and respect,