On The Record — A film by Academy Award-nominated filmmakers Kirby Dick & Amy Ziering

ON THE RECORD

This documentary presents the haunting story of music executive Drew Dixon, whose career and personal life have been deeply affected by the abuse she faced from the men she admired in the industry she loves. Directed by the Academy Award-nominated filmmaking duo Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering (The Invisible War, 2012 Sundance Film Festival), the film follows Dixon (producer of hit records by 2Pac, Method Man, and Mary J. Blige) as she grapples with her decision to become one of the first women of colour to come forward as part of the #MeToo movement.

ON THE RECORD is a gripping, complex study of race, gender, and the shared feelings of helplessness and terror that come from abuse. Through her bravery, Dixon inspired many previously silenced women to share their stories. These incredibly strong silence-breakers discuss their reluctance to add to the dangerous mythology and vilification of black men, resulting in their refusal to make those allegations public for decades. ON THE RECORD is a well-needed impetus for broad positive change — not just in the music industry but throughout the world.

Artist Bios

Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering are two-time Emmy Award-winning and two-time Academy Award-nominated filmmakers behind many groundbreaking investigatory documentaries. Their Peabody Award-winning The Invisible War broke the story of the epidemic of rape in the U.S. military and led to five congressional hearings and the passing of 35 reforms through Congress.

The Hunting Ground, about sexual assault on college campuses, ignited a national discussion and led to policy changes at hundreds of schools. Most recently, The Bleeding Edge, about the medical-device industry’s corruption and malfeasance, has compelled industry giants to remove harmful devices from the market, catalysing a worldwide debate about regulation and patient safety. Their investigatory rigour earned them a George Polk Award.

Produced in association with Shark Island Institute. Ian Darling, Executive Producer.


TRAILER

(Streaming on HBO Max from May 27, 2020)


Media Mentions

THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, Beandrea July
https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/review/record-review-1272581
“An emotionally revealing doc that sticks to the skin. Through the eyes of Dixon, the doc’s main figure, we get the rare chance to see the before and after of her trajectory from silent victim to vocal survivor. An intimate look at what is at stake when rape victims decide whether or not to tell their stories. Dick and Ziering fill the story with sustained moments of quiet reflection and stick with a stately pace that actually works. A STUNNING FEAT OF COMPLEXITY THAT’S BOTH CONTAINED AND EXPANSIVE. On a macro level, what Dick and Ziering are able to do in the doc is make visible ways that systemic sexism and misogyny deprive women of their livelihoods. The film, at its core, is about how survivors telling their stories, if and when they choose to, can help sexual assault victims transform the trauma buried inside.”
 
LOS ANGELES TIMES, Justin Chang
https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/movies/story/2020-01-26/on-the-record-review-sundance-russell-simmons
“Powerful, infuriating and embattled. A VITAL, DEEPLY MOVING COMPENDIUM OF ON-SCREEN TESTIMONY. It draws us into an astonishing intimacy with its survivors. But it’s also a thoughtful, sharply argued recalibration of how we think about truth telling in the age of #MeToo, specifically the difficulties that face women — especially women of color — who seek to come forward. “On the Record” will likely take some time before it finds its way to an audience, though it will surely find its way eventually.”
 
SCREEN INTERNATIONAL, Fionnuala Halligan
https://www.screendaily.com/reviews/5146378.article
“Adds some significant heat to the tinderbox that is race in the fight that is #metoo. REVELATORY, MOVING, AND HONEST. A powerful testament. Those who object to the unproven allegations, and see the accused as victims, will be unhappy; the many more who believe the accumulated layers of evidence and the distressed testimonies of the abused will find another layer of complexity here. This documentary packs some heat indeed, most of it generated by the testimony of Dixon (although she is joined at the end by other co-accusers). She’s certainly an individual to admire, both as a young woman and now as a thoughtful, strong and eloquent survivor. Takes the #metoo movement a step further and wider. The testimony will certainly live on and, once seen, is UNLIKELY TO BE EASILY FORGOTTEN.”
 
VARIETY, Owen Gleiberman
https://variety.com/2020/film/reviews/on-the-record-review-russell-simmons-drew-dixon-1203476329/
“POWERFUL, TRAUMATIC, AND CONVINCING. An incendiary indictment of men who have used their power within the entertainment industry to commit and cover up patterns of abusive behavior. A searing, at times shocking exposé of alleged criminal acts. What’s extraordinary is the disturbingly intimate communion the film creates between the audience and the survivors. Not just the facts but the meaning of these alleged crimes comes scarily alive in the emotional details of their telling. It’s been made with the seamlessly crafted, open-eyed humanity we’ve come to expect from directors Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering. Powerfully convincing. AN ESSENTIAL CORRECTIVE. To let this movie immerse you in Dixon’s hopes and dreams and fears and rage, and to live the experience of how her journey became a nightmare of profound trauma, is to come away with a more devastating understanding of the price extracted by sexual violence, and the insidious ways it can remain hidden from the world.”
 
INDIEWIRE, Eric Kohn
https://www.indiewire.com/2020/01/on-the-record-review-russell-simmons-1202205642/
“A smart and sturdy behind-the-scenes look at a high-profile #MeToo drama. “On the Record” lands its most compelling observations. If Simmons hoped he could hide from the spotlight over the last two years, “On the Record” magnifies it all over again. The filmmakers capture the full equation from the inside out: how #MeToo survivors experience the process of going public and watching their stories become part of a broader debate, and the catharsis that comes from victims finding each other in the aftermath.”
 
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY, Leah Greenblatt
https://ew.com/movie-reviews/2020/01/27/on-the-record-russell-simmons-review-sundance/
“GRADE: A-. POWERFUL, NECESSARY VIEWING. Interviews, archival clips and meticulous research feel irrefutably damning. It NEVER FEELS LIKE LESS THAN REQUIRED VIEWING: brutal, heartbreaking, and utterly necessary.”
 
THE WRAP, Candice Frederick
https://www.thewrap.com/on-the-record-film-review-drew-dixon-kirby-dick-amy-ziering-russell-simmons/
“Offers black women a voice in the #MeToo movement. MUCH MORE THAN AN EXPOSÉ. It does what so little of the dialogue has managed to do: implore audiences to embrace black female survivors and to understand the cultural and painful dilemmas they continue to endure along their avid fight to heal the wounds of the entire black race. Though it’s at times a gutting watch, it’s ultimately about hope and sisterhood.”
 
ROLLING STONE, David Fear
https://www.rollingstone.com/movies/movie-features/on-the-record-russell-simmons-sundance-review-943145/
“IMPOSSIBLE TO IGNORE. There should be no going back now.”
 
VOX, Alissa Wilkinson
https://www.vox.com/culture/2020/1/26/21080318/sundance-2020-on-record-dissident-love-fraud-nowhere-inn
“Absolutely damning.”
 
VANITY FAIR, Jordan Hoffman
https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2020/01/russell-simmons-documentary-review
“On the Record itself is a thorough and self-aware film.”

AP / USA Today (NATIONALLY SYNDICATED), Jake Coyle
https://www.usatoday.com/story/entertainment/movies/2020/02/03/on-record-hbo-max-russell-simmons-documentary-oprah-exits/4651667002/
“After Oprah’s exit, Russell Simmons accusers doc “On the Record” acquired by HBO Max

DEADLINE, Anthony D’Alessandro
https://deadline.com/2020/02/hbo-max-acquires-russell-simmons-on-the-record-sundance-oprah-winfrey-1202850400/
“Russell Simmons Accusers Documentary ‘On The Record’ Acquired By HBO Max – Sundance

THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, Mia Galuppo
https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/sundance-hbo-max-picks-up-russell-simmons-accuser-doc-record-1273685
“Russell Simmons Accuser Doc ‘On the Record’ Lands at HBO Max

INDIEWIRE, Chris Lindahl
https://www.indiewire.com/2020/02/on-the-record-russell-simmons-documentary-distribution-1202208390/
“HBO Max Makes First Festival Acquisition with Russell Simmons Sexual Misconduct Doc ‘On the Record’”

VARIETY, Matt Donnelly
https://variety.com/2020/film/news/russell-simmons-accusers-doc-on-the-record-goes-to-hbo-max-after-oprah-exodus-1203491246/
“Russell Simmons Accusers Doc ‘On the Record’ Goes to HBO Max After Orah Exodus”

THE WRAP, Beatrice Verhoeven
https://www.thewrap.com/hbo-max-picks-up-russell-simmons-accusers-doc-on-the-record/
“HBO Max Picks Up Russell Simmons Accusers Doc ‘On the Record’”

Features

VARIETY, Matt Donnelly (VIDEO + Article)
https://variety.com/2020/film/news/russell-simmons-on-the-record-accusers-1203490145/
“Why Russell Simmons Accusers Doc ‘On The Record’ IS So Much Bigger Than Oprah Scandal
Sundance in-studio interview with Drew, Sil Lai, Sheri, Amy, and Kirby

THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, Staff
https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/at-sundance-2020-dazzling-docs-diverse-voices-1275620
“Critics’ Conversation: Dazzling Docs and Diverse Voices Lift Sundance 2020”
“I also thought On the Record was very strong, and being at the premiere Q&A to see both Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering, very serious doc directors, break down in tears was really something. That whole room was emotional.”
“I also echo your praise for the compelling and powerfully contextualized On the Record, which, in allowing Russell Simmons’ accusers to speak at length, lays bare the devastation of rape and sexual abuse in unflinchingly plain, emotional terms. It’s a knockout punch.”

VARIETY, Owen Gleiberman & Peter DeBruge
https://variety.com/2020/film/opinion/best-films-of-sundance-2020-1203489475/
“The 13 Best Films of the 2020 Sundance Film Festival”
“Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering’s documentary, which presents the former music executive Drew Dixon’s accusations of sexual harassment and rape against the hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons, is a searing, at times shocking exposé of alleged criminal acts. Not just the facts but the meaning of these crimes comes scarily alive in the emotional details of their telling. Dixon’s testimony is powerfully convincing, and the film is sophisticated enough about the social import and sexual braggadocio of the hip-hop world to celebrate its bad-boy artistry and, at the same time, to call its bitches-and-hos misogyny on the carpet with an honesty you rarely encounter in music documentaries. “On the Record” plunges deeper than perhaps any #MeToo narrative we’ve seen into the tortured ambivalence that women who’ve been victimized feel about calling out their accusers. But the movie also looks at the particular conundrum that black women face in spotlighting predatory behavior by black men. — OG”

THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, Staff

https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/lists/hollywood-reporter-critics-pick-best-films-sundance-2020-1275170/
“20 Best Films of Sundance 2020”
“Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering’s emotionally revealing, powerfully haunting doc spotlights women – in particular Drew Dixon – who have publicly accused hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons of sexual assault and misconduct. It’s a stunning feat of complexity, both contained and expansive, that lays bare how systemic sexism and misogyny deprive people of their livelihoods.”

DEADLINE, Anthony D’Alessandro
https://deadline.com/2020/01/on-the-record-sundance-premiere-russell-simmons-drew-dixon-1202841232/
‘On The Record’ Sundance Premiere: Russell Simmons Accusers Defend Directors Kirby Dick, Amy Ziering Amid Oprah Pushback
You would think it was a world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival with multiple standing ovations for Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering’s documentary On the Record, about the women who spoke out against music mogul Russell Simmons, accusing him of sexual assault.

LOS ANGELES TIMES/AUDIBLE, Amy Kaufman
https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/story/2020-01-25/ron-howard-advice-sundance-2020
Amy Ziering participates on Sundance panel with Ron Howard, Heidi Ewing, Sasheer Zamata, and Rebecca Hall about storytelling.

BILLBOARD, Mara Reinstein
https://www.billboard.com/articles/news/8549070/russell-simmons-on-the-record-documentary-gets-standing-ovations-sundance-film-festival
No Oprah? No problem: ‘On the Record’ Doc Gets Standing Ovations at Sundance
The 2020 edition of the Sundance Film Festival is unofficially the year of the woman. More than 50% of the movies are directed by females. The opening night selection was the Taylor Swift tell-all Miss Americana. And on Saturday (Jan. 25), the searing #MeToo documentary On the Record — in which several women accuse hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons of sexual assault and misconduct — brought an audience to its feet. Twice.
“We are super-proud to be here and grateful,” co-director Amy Ziering told the audience at the premiere. She also thanked Sundance for “standing strong and never blinking.” Indeed, with all the controversy surrounding the documentary in recent weeks, it was unclear whether it would ever see the light of day — much less premiere up in the mountains of Park City, Utah, on its scheduled date.

VARIETY, Brent Lang
https://variety.com/2020/film/markets-festivals/on-the-record-russell-simmons-sundance-oprah-winfrey-1203480412/
‘On the Record,’ Documentary About Russell Simmons’ Rape Accusations, Premieres to Thunderous Standing Ovation
“On the Record, a devastating look at many of the women who came forward to accuse music mogul Russell Simmons of rape and harassment, premiered to not one, but two thunderous standing ovations at the Sundance Film Festival. The warm reception came as the film has become engulfed in a media firestorm, one sparked by Oprah Winfrey’s decision to remove herself from the project as executive producer. Even before the film started, the audience leapt to its feet, signaling their support for the women who spoke out against one of the most powerful figures in the entertainment industry and for the film that recounted their struggles.”

THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, Mia Galuppo
https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/sundance-russell-simmons-accuser-doc-record-gets-multiple-standing-ovations-1272863
Russell Simmons Accuser Doc ‘On the Record’ Gets Multiple Standing Ovations
“Ahead of the screening Dick and Ziering received a standing ovation from the audience and addressed the Marc theater, with a tearful Ziering offering: “You are going to bear witness to some of the most extraordinary people we have been privileged to work with over the past couple of years.” As the credits rolled after the doc, the audience gave a standing ovation to the movie, and yet another as the filmmakers and the subjects of the doc came forward to the front of The Marc.”

THE NEW YORK TIMES, Nicole Sperling
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/25/movies/russell-simmons-documentary-controversy.html
“Applause broke out when the film’s central figure, Drew Dixon, who has accused Simmons of raping her, said, “It’s time to take seriously the plunder of black women.” The crowd also applauded when “On the Record” showed a group of hip-hop D.J.s affirming their support for the accusers. After the screening, Dixon along with two other women from the documentary, Sil Lai Abrams and Sherri Hines, went onstage to a standing ovation and took part in a Q. and A. along with the directors. Dixon told the audience. “They listened and deferred to us and centered us.””

INDIEWIRE, Kate Erbland
https://www.indiewire.com/2020/01/on-the-record-russell-simmons-documentary-controversy-sundance-1202206104/
“After premiering their latest documentary, “On the Record,” to no less than three standing ovations (one before its screening, two after), documentarians Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering took to the Sundance stage on Saturday evening to discuss their deep dive look at sexual assault accusations leveled against hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons. Dick and Ziering were greeted with tremendous applause during a pre-screening introduction to the film, during which Ziering thanked Sundance for showing the film.”

ASSOCIATED PRESS, Jake Coyle
https://apnews.com/a15b300df8fc49e5971b54324865680f
“Without Oprah or Apple, the Russell Simmons documentary “On the Record” went ahead with its premiere Saturday at the Sundance Film Festival, where the women who came forward with sexual assault allegations against the hip-hop mogul received one of the festival’s most roaring receptions. In the crowd in Park City was the actress Rosanna Arquette, who has accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment. Arquette stood up during the Q&A to salute the women in the film. “I’m so proud of you,” she said.”

Selected Socials

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY / Leah Greenblatt
“On the Record is such brutal heartbreaking and necessary viewing I wish there was so much more than a hashtagged tweet to make sure this movie gets seen”

THE FILM STAGE / Jordan Raup
“An emotional gut-punch. It’s as much about the personal struggle of Drew Dixon & others in telling their stories of horrifying sexual misconduct at the hands of Russell Simmons as it is about how the voices of black women have been marginalized throughout history.”

ROGER EBERT / Brian Tallerico
“Brave and devastating look at a reckoning that’s long overdue for the music industry and the monsters who abused their power in it. Another powerful movie from Dick and Ziering. Never cried so much at a Q&A.”

VARIETY / Brent Lang
“Hard to understand what Oprah’s issues were. “On the Record” is a powerful look at the survivors who accused Russell Simmons of rape.”

THE WEEK / Noel Murray
“There’s more to ON THE RECORD than just its central story (which is plenty compelling). The movie’s also about institutional misogyny, moguls deemed “too big to cancel” (so to speak), and the talent lost when women get fed up and quit the business.”

THE RINGER / Sean Fennessey
“Wrenching. Just see it.”

Jason Blum
“Caught #OnTheRecordDoc on the way out of Park city. Was pretty amazing.”

Elaine Welteroth
““MUCH MORE THAN AN EXPOSÉ, #OnTheRecordDoc does what so little of the dialogue has managed to do: implore audiences to embrace black female survivors & to understand the cultural & painful dilemmas they continue to endure.”
@TheWrap on the doc @UncleRUSH is working to silence.”

Thandie Newton
“Must see. ‘On The Record’ Sundance Premiere: Russell Simmons Accusers Defend Directors Kirby Dick, Amy Ziering Amid Oprah Pushback” via @Deadline