A message from the NYFF programming team September 23, 2020
The NYFF programming team has decided effective immediately to remove Oliver Shahery’s documentary Wild Bill Horsecock from virtual exhibition as part of the New York Stories shorts program. The film follows Hayes Johnson, a country singer in Nashville whose unambiguous history of sexual misconduct is referenced extensively. Shahery’s subject is, in part, the professional and personal consequences of Johnson’s misconduct, and the film calls attention to his failure or refusal to demonstrate accountability or remorse. We stand by both the principles guiding our selection process and the film itself, which we feel compels viewers to actively examine their responses to a figure like Johnson, a manifestly unrepentant individual whose victims have suffered further trauma in the absence of institutional justice.
Until individual survivors and their advocates came forward, we did not recognize the real harm that our presentation of the film would cause. In light of this harm, we feel the need to respond by removing it from the program. We came to this decision after much consideration and deliberation, in an effort to reconcile our commitment to freedom of expression with our commitment to supporting and amplifying the voices of survivors of sexual assault.