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'Words alone are not enough': Former VIFF programmer faces claims of abuse, sexual harassment

Last Updated Dec 23, 2019 at 10:27 am PDT

(Courtesy viff.org)

One of VIFF's former top programmers is facing claims of violence, sexual harassment from women filmmakers

VIFF cites 'serious allegations' against the programmer, but has not named him

Adam Cook is no longer affiliated with VIFF, and Sheffield/DocFest in the UK says he's resigned from his post there

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The Vancouver International Film Festival is responding as one of its former programmers faces allegations of violence and sexual harassment from women filmmakers.

In a statement, the festival cites “serious allegations” made on social media earlier this month, but does not name the individual, nor does it detail what they are accused of doing.

However, it appears several lengthy statements posted by filmmakers earlier this month fill in the story.

One claims Adam Cook sexually harassed her at film festival party, while another claims to have been in an abusive relationship with Cook during which he’s said to have punched through a door, sending shards of glass into her face.

VIFF has now cancelled the Future//Present film series Cook was in charge of.

“We understand the desire among many for VIFF to openly disclose the details of its investigations and processes,” the VIFF statement reads. “However, we ask for your understanding that privacy laws prohibit us from doing so. That said, we wish to make it clear — in the strongest possible terms — that VIFF is committed to embodying values of inclusion, diversity, equality, and respect. We recognize that, as a member of a vibrant creative community, we have a special responsibility to ensure that these values are upheld to the highest standards.”

The organization adds it’s committed to improving its safety standards and bolstering its code of conduct, and that “words alone are not enough.”

VIFF says it’s also engaged consultants and advisors to help strengthen its practices to uphold inclusion and fight harassment, and says it will work with the community to “improve festival safety standards.”

Meanwhile, the Sheffield/DocFest in the UK has also announced that Cook has resigned as its senior programmer — a job he had started just one month ago.