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A German director portrays the research that led to #MeToo

Verena Greb
November 18, 2022

Maria Schrader's film "She Said," about how the Harvey Weinstein scandal was revealed and ended up triggering the #MeToo movement, shows the power of investigative journalism.

Carey Mulligan and Zoe Kazan in character on a film set
Carey Mulligan and Zoe Kazan on the set of "She Said"Image: RW/MPI/Captital Pictures/picture alliance

Starring Carey Mulligan and Zoe Kazan as New York Times reporters Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor, "She Said" portrays the work of the two journalists who uncovered a scandal that triggered a seismic shift worldwide. 

The film, by German director Maria Schrader, is opening in cinemas around the world.

Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor's famous investigation centered on Harvey Weinstein, the once-powerful producer of many Hollywood films.

At the time, over five years ago, rumors in the newsroom had it that Weinstein exploited his position of power and committed multiple acts of sexual abuse. In cooperation with a team of journalists and lawyers, Kantor and Twohey gathered statements from possible victims and confidants, facing resistance throughout their research.

The film shows how Weinstein worked to keep his activities out of the public eye.

The film also pays tribute to the women who speak to Kantor and Twohey despite having signed declarations of confidentiality.

Triggering a worldwide movement

The painstaking research culminated in the New York Times report titled "Harvey Weinstein Paid Off Sexual Harassment Accusers for Decades," published on October 5, 2017, beginning with the story of actress Ashley Judd. Many more articles followed.

Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor, two women at lectern, with man (Dean Baquet) nearby
New York Times staff writers Megan Twohey, left, and Jodi Kantor Image: Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times/AP/picture alliance

The reports gave rise to a movement of women around the world who shared their experiences of sexualized violence, that became known in social media under the hashtag #MeToo, based on the Me Too movement launched a decade earlier by Black activist Tarana Burke.

In 2019, Kantor and Twohey's book, "She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite a Movement," hit the bookstores. Rebecca Lenkiewicz's screenplay for "She Said" is based on their work. 

In 2020, Weinstein was sentenced to 23 years in prison for his offenses, including rape. He is currently on trial in another case in Los Angeles.

 Maria Schrader and two other women and two men in a room, ecstatic, smiling, happy
Maria Schrader, center, and the team from "Unorthodox" accept the Emmy for Outstanding Directing for a Limited Series, Movie or Dramatic Special in 2020Image: Invision for the Television Academy/AP/picture alliance

"She Said" marks Schrader's debut as a feature film director in the United States, where she is already renowned for her Emmy award-winning Netflix miniseries, "Unorthodox," about a young Jewish woman who escapes her ultra-Orthodox community in New York City for Berlin. 

Schrader's work has often focused on topics related to the German-Jewish and Israeli past and present, whether as a director for "Love Life" (2007) or "Stefan Zweig: Farewell to Europe" (2016). She has acted in "The Giraffe" (1998), "Aimee & Jaguar" (1999) and "Rosenstrasse" (2003).

Her 2021 German-language film, "I'm Your Man,"  was selected as Germany's entry for the Oscars last year.

And "She Said" has already received an award, at the 2022 Montclair Film Festival (MFF) in New Jersey: The David Carr Award is a prize in commemoration of the popular New York Times columnist who died in 2015. It goes to filmmakers who focus on the truth in their work.

This article was originally written in German.