In his 2.10 review of Unauthorized: The Harvey Weinstein Project, Toronto Star critic Peter Howell says director Barry Avrich “didn’t just pick a hostile target [but also] a moving one, which makes his film both very timely and somewhat the victim of circumstance.
“This time last year, everybody was playing taps for the career of Weinstein, whose Miramax Films had redefined the indie landscape in the 1980s and 1990s, with such hits as Pulp Fiction, The English Patient and Shakespeare In Love. By 2010, Weinstein was beset with debts for his struggling post-Miramax firm The Weinstein Company and deemed to be yesterday’s mogul.
“Now it’s 2011 and Weinstein is very much back in the fray, with a leading 12 Oscar nominations for his current smash The King’s Speech and a recent round of aggressive deals from Sundance.
“How does a filmmaker keep up with all of these fast-changing developments? Avrich’s answer is not to pretend to be the last word on the subject but instead to do a solid job telling the back story, not just about Weinstein but about the rise of independent film in general.
“Having explained Old Hollywood with 2005’s The Last Mogul, his doc on power player Lew Wasserman, he now does the same with Weinstein’s New Hollywood environs.”
“Harvey’s this fantastic enigma, this larger-than- life man,” Avrich recently told CBC News’ Margo Kelly. “He’s huge, he comes from a tough background, the exterior is extraordinarily gruff but he has the sensitivity of a swan when comes to making some of the great monumental foreign and indie films ever.”
“I’m not making this film as a hatchet job,” Avirch states. “It’s called unauthorized not because it’s scandalous — it’s called unauthorized because he didn’t participate. This is a film for people who love Hollywood and Hollywood stories.”
Avrich’s documentary will soon screen on HBO Canada. IFC Films has the U.S. rights, and will presumably offer an on-demand option.