Stories of women fighting injustice increased post #MeToo: 'The Black List' founder

Bedika K

Mumbai, Oct 24 (PTI) American film producer Franklin Leonard, who is the founder of 'The Black List', a yearly compilation of Hollywood's best unpublished scripts, says there was an increase in the number of stories related to women seeking justice post the #MeToo movement.

The 'List', which has been in existence in Hollywood for almost 15 years, is responsible for some of the biggest movies such as 'The Spotlight', 'The Imitation Game' and 'Little Miss Sunshine'.

It is also a good indicator of what the writers and the industry people are thinking, Leonard said.

'‘The Black List’ does a good job of reflecting, on an annual basis, the things that writers and the film industry are thinking about. Two years ago, after the advent of the #MeToo movement, there were a lot of scripts about women taking revenge on anyone who has wronged them outside of the justice system.

'On the annual list, there were like eight scripts out of 75 were like on women taking revenge on men, who have done them wrong. It reflected this societal moment of women saying enough, something has to change, and we're going to do it via the legal system, or it's going to be not the legal system,' he told PTI in an interview here.

Another discernible trend that Leonard can spot is that there are more stories related to topics dealing with corruption.

'Over the last two years, there's been a lot of investigations of systemic corruption, there have been scripts about people and systems that were corrupt and how those systems were caught. Given the current US political movement, that's a subject that people are thinking a lot about.

'I'm sure there will be a new theme this year, though, it would not surprise me of both of these topics continue to recur because we haven't solved any of those problems,' he said.

Leonard said as a jury of India Gold segment at the JIO MAMI Mumbai 21st Mumbai Film Festival with Star, it was eye opening to witness India's variety through the movies.

In his 'first of many trips' to India, the producer wants to learn as much as he can about the film industry.

'I have taken a number of meetings just to better educate myself about the industry. People make a mistake when they come into a new environment and think this is how things should be. You need to educate yourself on what the needs of the culture are. I'd much rather learn how things are and ask how I can be helpful,' he said.

'The Black List' may have started on the spur of a moment but it has become a gold standard of best of what cinema has to offer, something that Leonard is proud of.

'Success begets success. There's a virtuous cycle that comes... More the scripts are successful, the more likely it is for people to say, wait a minute, what's on this year's Blacklist.

'Benedict Cumberbatch said the reason he did read ‘The Imitation Game’ was because it was number one on ‘The Black List’. Brad Pitt has been quoted saying how important ‘The Black List’ is. And all that's flattering, but we have to focus on making sure that the work continues to be good so that when people do say nice things, we deserve it.'

The priority for Leonard is now to create a film fund.

'I want to be in a position to green light movie rather than asking someone else to do my movies that I know will be very good,' he said. PTI KKP BK BK

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