Weinstein scandal hot topic at St. John's women's film festival

Two women taking part in the 28th St. John's International Women's Film Festival say the event will also celebrate the accomplishments of women in the industry.

Organizers say festival is a place where harassment is not tolerated

Nicole Boggan (left) and Erin Mick expect film festival goers to be talking about the Harvey Weinstein scandal, but say that it won't be the only topic of discussion. (Paula Gale/CBC)

The Harvey Weinstein scandal will be a big topic of conversation as one of the world's longest-running women's film festivals gets underway in St. John's Wednesday night.

"I do expect that it will be a huge conversation, but I think that the St. John's International Women's Film Festival is a place where women can get away from that too," said program coordinator Nicole Boggan.

The festival, now in its 28th year, opens with local film Suck it Up by Jordan Canning.

Suck it Up, by Newfoundland filmmaker Jordan Canning, kicks off the five-day festival. (Jordan Canning)

"We strive to have events that are women-focused and facilitate opportunities for women to ... advance their careers," Boggan told the St. John's Morning Show, adding that the festival has spent years working on a "safer space" policy.

"Any kind of harassment based on any kind of any identity you might have — LGTB or whatever — is not tolerated at this festival."

'Terrible to everybody'

Still, Boggan and actor Erin Mick acknowledge that many women working in film have had experiences similar to the assault and harassment allegations being made against the Hollywood mogul.

Harvey Weinstein and people like him aren't just terrible to women.- Erin Mick

"In my whole life as a female actor I've had to face people giving me advice on how to be careful and how to protect myself, when really we should be focusing on not letting these people into the industry in the first place," said Mick, who is working on her master's degree at Memorial University.

"Harvey Weinstein and people like him aren't just terrible to women, they're terrible to everybody," she said.

There are also lots of others in the film industry, she added, "who are kind and generous and care only about movies and about taking care of people and they get stepped on by people like Harvey Weinstein all the time."

Cool guests, amazing forums

The five-day festival continues until Sunday.

Besides the opening film, Boggan and Mick are excited to take part in workshops and hear the panels.

The festival defies the notion that films by women are "special or different," Mick said.

"[It] just shows you that women are making great films and women deserve to be seen. And it's always a lot of fun, and there's always really cool guests. And the forums are amazing and I love going to the festival as both a viewer and someone in the industry. It's awesome."

Check here for a schedule of what's on during the 2017 festival.

With files from St. John's Morning Show