“I believe if anyone at Palace Cinemas watches the film, they won’t see any need to pull the film,” director Cassie Jaye said of ‘The Red Pill’.
The film was set to be screened on Sunday week at the 70-seat Kino Cinema in the heart of Melbourne’s CBD. Tickets for the special event — hosted by the activist group ‘Men’s Rights Melbourne’ — had sold out.
The petition called on the cinema chain to ditch the film, which it described as “misogynistic propaganda”. Set up by “Susie Smith” on Change.org just three days ago, it quickly garnered more than 2300 signatures before Palace Cinemas cancelled the screening.
The film, which aired in the US earlier this month, explores the world of the Men’s Rights Movement through the eyes of its feminist filmmaker. Ms Jaye spent a year filming men’s rights activists such as Paul Elam, the founder of ‘A Voice For Men’, saying that the assignment led her to question her long-held feminist beliefs.
In an email exchange with The Citizen, Ms Jaye said she was extremely disappointed with the petition’s “victory”, adding that she had tried to contact Palace Cinemas but to no avail.
“Hopefully, I’ll have more information tomorrow,” she said.
‘Men’s Rights Melbourne’ also urged Palace Cinemas to reconsider its decision, launching a rival petition that was headlined: ‘Stop Extremists Censoring What Australians Are Allowed To See: Save The Red Pill Screening’.
The group said that inaccurate claims made in the original petition about the film’s content had led to the film’s cancellation.
At least two other petitions calling for the film to be shown also emerged.
Plans for the exclusive screening had sparked fierce criticism and vitriolic exchanges online between both camps, although many were made anonymously or through pseudonyms.
“This kind of dangerous, hateful propaganda has no business being shown anywhere,” Erin McOnie wrote in support of the original petition, ‘Stop Palace Cinemas Screening The Red Pill’.
Other opponents were less measured. “This is fucking nonsense,” Miles David wrote. “I generally admire Palace, but screen this garbage and they will never see my face again at their cinemas.”
“We have come to a decision based on the overwhelmingly negative response we have received from our valued customers.” — Palace Cinemas, on why it axed the screening of ‘The Red Pill’
In an email to the founder of ‘Men’s Rights Melbourne’, David Williams, Palace Cinemas confirmed the cancellation.
“We have come to a decision based on the overwhelmingly negative response we have received from our valued customers,” read the statement, which has now been posted to the counter-petition.
Andrew Carter, a men’s rights activist, said he had planned to fly to Melbourne to attend the screening. “To me, the issue is the power of a group to bully a business to bow to pressure. You can’t discuss men’s issues without it being derailed.”
Mr Carter told The Citizen he was speaking with other men’s rights activists and was hopeful organisers could find an alternative venue. He said at least 50 more people had been placed on a waiting list for tickets to a screening, indicating that support remained strong for the film.
Supporting the push in favour of the film, “J Felton” wrote on the latest petition: “I’m signing this petition as we have a right of freedom of speech. The radical feminist fringe is trying to stop the truth coming out. I’m sick of the radical feminist minority determining the DV agenda.Men are not all demons just as not all women are innocent victims.”
Palace Cinemas declined to comment to The Citizen.
However, publicity manager Caroline Whiteway was quoted by the Herald Sun attributing the change of heart to patrons’ feedback.
“We support freedom of speech and reserve the right to allow private venue hire of our cinemas to a broad cross-section of groups. However, at the time of the booking, we were unaware that this screening had the potential to cause distress to our valued clientele,” Ms Whiteway told the paper.