HARVEY Weinstein was set to come to Australia as a hero even after many of the accusations levelled against him had been made. 

And it was a situation in which the local industry avoided the embarrassment of treating as a hero a man who in four years hence would be considered a major villain.

Weinstein was to have been feted by our movie establishment but the planned celebration was brought undone by a dodgy knee.

And today some of the organisers who back then were deeply distressed by his no-show are relieved.

In 2013 the leviathan Hollywood producer - now exposed as a sexual predator - was set to fly here for a round of awards and congratulations by the local cinema community.

Harvey Weinstein
Harvey Weinstein Charles Sykes - Invision - AP

The unlikely primary event was an appearance at the Canberra International Film Festival in November and arrangements had been assisted by the US Embassy.

He was to have been the star of a gala ball in the Great Hall of Parliament House. It was to have been called The Virgin Ball, after the airline sponsor.

"There was backing from the ACT Government. It would have been a huge embarrassment for them in retrospect," said one festival source.

It was a big production. The rationale was Weinstein had invested heavily distributing Australian films overseas.

They included Jane Campion's The Piano, John Duigan's Sirens, Baz Luhrman's Strictly Ballroom, and PJ Hogan's Muriel's Wedding.

So he was to be presented the inaugural Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts International Fellowship.

Further, he was to have been given the Canberra International Film Festival's first Body of Work award.

Geoffrey Rush (Weinstein's The King's Speech) was among the well-known names set to take part in a round of speeches, lectures and TV appearances as well as the film festival salutes.

However, the plans collapsed, along with Mr Weinstein's knee.

In a statement he said doctor's orders were he could not fly with his injured joint, which was a great disappointment to him. The fear was the long flight could have caused a blood clot.

Instead of the personal appearance, Mr Weinstein sent the film festival $50,000, which would not have covered the losses from cancelled events where tickets were going for as much as $440 a head.

There were doubts at the time about honouring an American at an event which some said should have concentrated on local product and performers. So his absence was welcomed in some quarters.

But now there is almost unanimous agreement it was a close run thing: The Australian industry narrowly avoided praising a man who by then was well-known for his abuse of women.

News Corp Australia


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