Trigger Warning: The following article contains details of an alleged sexual assault.
The lineup for the 2020 Sundance Film Festival was announced on Wednesday and there is one particular mysterious project that stands out.
According to an Apple TV+ press release, the untitled Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering documentary, executive produced by Oprah Winfrey and Impact Partners, is set to premiere in 2020. Sundance has confirmed the festival will host the world premiere beginning in January. Though further details of the film have been kept under wraps; the New York Times and LA Times have reported the film’s primary subject will be Drew Dixon, a former music executive who accused music mogul Russell Simmons of raping her in his apartment in 1995. Dixon quit working at Simmons’ Def Jam Records shortly after the alleged incident.
Sundance describes the film as, “A brilliant former hip hop executive grapples with whether to go public about her rape by one of the most powerful men in the music industry. A gripping and profound examination of race, gender, intersectionality, and the toll sexual abuse takes on survivors and on society at large.”
Per Apple’s film description:
Produced and co-directed by Dick and Ziering, the documentary follows a brilliant former music executive who grapples with whether to go public with her story of assault and abuse by a notable figure in the music industry. The film is a profound examination of race, gender, class and intersectionality, and the toll assaults take on their victims and society at large.
The Untitled Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering documentary feature is produced by Dick and Ziering’s Jane Doe Films (The Hunting Ground, The Invisible War), with Winfrey, Terry Wood (Harpo Productions), Dan Cogan (Impact Partners), Regina K. Scully (Artemis Rising), Ian Darling (Shark Island), Abigail Disney (Level Forward) serving as executive producers. The creative team includes producers Jamie Rogers and Amy Herdy.
In a December 2017 interview with the New York Times, three women—Dixon, Tina Baker and Toni Sallie—detailed separate incidents in which Simmons allegedly raped them. Dixon’s account was reported as follows:
One night, as she left the Bowery Bar near Mr. Simmons’s apartment to get cab money from an A.T.M., she ran into him. “You have the No. 1 record in the country; I’ll order you a car,” she recalled him saying.
Waiting for the ride, she let her guard down and entered his apartment. “I remember realizing I was cornered,” said Ms. Dixon, who said she rejected Mr. Simmons’s sexual advances that night directly — “many ways to say no” — as well as explaining that she had just had a gynecological procedure and could not have sex. He told her he didn’t care, she said, “and I just blacked out.”
“The last thing I remember was him pinning me down to kiss me on the bed,” she said. The next thing she recalled was being in Mr. Simmons’s hot tub, both of them naked and Mr. Simmons gleeful. (Ms. Dixon said she had not been drinking and did not think she had been drugged; rather, she said, she had disassociated from the experience.)
Following the report, Simmons released a statement via the NYT noting, “I vehemently deny all these allegations. These horrific accusations have shocked me to my core and all of my relations have been consensual.”
The 2020 Sundance Film Festival will take place Jan. 23 - Feb. 2.