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Women need to speak up for sexual harassment to stop: Michal Aviad

Women need to speak up for sexual harassment to stop: Michal Aviad

India Blooms News Service | @indiablooms | 29 Sep 2018, 01:20 pm

Israeli film director Michal Aviad has been wowing crowds and critics alike with her latest offering, Working Woman. The film deals with sexual harassment at workplace, a prevalent problem in most societies. In a chat with IBNS Canada's Asha Bajaj and Sudipto Maity during the recently concluded Toronto International Film Festival, Aviad opens up about the issue, remedies to rid the world of such vices and her special love for movies. Excerpts:

Your film Working Woman is about an issue plaguing humankind for a very long time. Was it drawn from your personal experiences?

Listen, most women on earth were sexually harassed, I’m sure in India as well. I didn’t experience it at work because for many years I’m a film director and I don’t have bosses. But, like most women, I experienced sexual harassment in my life, especially when I was a young girl, quite often.

What inspired you to take up the subject?

I wanted to take up this subject because I really wanted to understand how does it happen to so many smart, great women. I wanted to figure out how sexual harassment happens at work.

Aviad attending the screening at TIFF. Image: Facebook

With regards to TimesUp and MeToo, do you reckon it couldn't have come at a better time?

Yeah, but I started the film long before the MeToo movement started. MeToo happened while we were already in production. So, we did the funding before that, all the rehearsals were done before that, even the script was written. The MeToo movement didn’t really affect the film, but, I was happy that all of a sudden, the subject became mainstream.     

We have all been witness to the recent change in Hollywood, and by that I'm talking about the MeToo and TimesUp movement. Though these have done wonders, do you think such a step was procrastinated for far too long?

I cannot really criticise the women. What I know is, we are talking about say 100 to 200 women, but, women who are harassed at work, are in the millions. Till all the women won’t speak up, things won’t happen. In my opinion, one or two famous women came out and that’s great, but it’s not going to change the world.

Do you think it is a failure from both sides, the victim and the perpetrator?

That’s right. It’s true. But the problem is that in society, as we know it, it’s very hard for women who are not famous and do not make the news, to come out. They can lose their job, they can lose their ability to support the children and that’s a big deal.

Workplace sexual harassment is prevalent in most countries. Having said that, how's the situation in Israel?

It is exactly like the situation in other industrial countries. Yeah, very similar.

We believe you wrote the script with two other people. While co-writing, there's bound to be ideas that don't match the other writers. How do you solve those conflicts?

All of us didn’t work at the same time. I worked with one of them for about a year and then I worked with the other script writer to improve the script for another few months.

A still from the movie. Imahe:

You have made both documentaries and features and have been making films for the last three decades. What's your first preference between documentaries and feature films?

Oh my God! (pause) Right now, feature films, because I’m less experienced and I want to make more. But, for many years I was very happy making documentaries.

Do you watch your own movies?

Yes. For instance, I’m in love with this film. It will take me two years to really watch it in a critical way. I’m too close to it. 

Have you watched anything recently which resembles your present work?  

No, which is really strange. It’s a phenomena that is so prevalent and there are/were films which were made about sexual harassment in Hollywood, in the mainstream, they are either- she is happy to have sex with him because he is powerful or it happens the other way around, where she is the boss and she harasses him. There aren’t film which shows how it happens usually.

Finally, why did you decide to have the international premier of your movie at TIFF?

I didn’t decide. I just sent it and they accepted it. I’m happy (laughs).

Michal Aviad Image: Facebook

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Women need to speak up for sexual harassment to stop: Michal Aviad

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