Harvey Weinstein has risked his money releasing more Australian films than any other US distributor so it is fitting that he’ll receive two awards from Aussie organisations this month.
The maverick producer-distributor will receive the inaugural Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts International Fellowship on November 23 at the Canberra International Film Festival.
At the same event he’s being honoured with the festival’s first Body of Work award, recognising his achievements in helping to elevate independent filmmaking from art house to mainstream.
Harvey and his brother Bob founded Miramax Films in 1979 and rapidly became champions of Australian cinema, distributing films such as Jane Campion’s The Piano and Holy Smoke!, John Duigan’s Sirens, Peter Duncan’s Children of the Revolution, P.J. Hogan’s Muriel's Wedding, Mark Joffe’s Cosi, Baz Luhrmann’s Strictly Ballroom and Phil Noyce’s Rabbit-Proof Fence.
Victoria Treole set up the Miramax Australia office in 1994 and ran the company's operations here until 2004. Initially that involved acquisitions but the role later evolved into talent and project development and film production and TV formats when Miramax produced Project Greenlight and Project Runway. In 2001 she persuaded Miramax to establish its own distribution unit in Australia/New Zealand headed by David Collins (now sales director at Universal Pictures International Australia).
Among the many Australian and New Zealand projects financed by or acquired by Miramax and TWC were Greg Mclean's Wolf Creek and Rogue, Peter Jackson's Heavenly Creatures and Shirley Barrett's Love Serenade.
After an acrimonious split from the Walt Disney Company the brothers launched The Weinstein Company in 2005. The King's Speech was one of their biggest successes. This year TWC released Wayne Blair’s The Sapphires and acquired North American rights to John Curran’s Tracks, Jonathan Teplitzky’s The Railway Man and Justin Kurzel’s upcoming adaptation of Macbeth, starring Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard.
“Australia produces some fine screen talent and I have had the pleasure of working with some incredible performers and filmmakers who call Australia home,” Weinstein said. “I thank the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts for honouring me as their inaugural International Fellowship recipient and I look forward to visiting Australia later this month.”
“Harvey is a fearless and inspired champion of screen story who during his tenure at Miramax and now The Weinstein Company has produced a staggering 271 films – 75 of which have won Academy Awards,” said AACTA president Geoffrey Rush, who worked with Weinstein on The King’s Speech and Shakespeare in Love.
In Canberra Weinstein will be joined by many of the Australian filmmakers and actors he has backed over the years for film screenings and Q&As, talks and a master class.