Watch a New James Toback Accuser’s Film About Being Harassed (Exclusive)

“Lost Beneath the Stars” filmmaker Dani Alvarado says the opening of her new film was inspired by a run-in with the director

Last Updated: November 21, 2017 @ 2:03 PM

Filmmaker Dani Alvarado is one of many women who say a professional meeting with James Toback devolved into the writer-director making humiliating sexual advances. But she may be the first woman to make a film recounting the experience.

What happened between her and Toback, as she describes it, became the opening scene of Alvarado’s short film “Lost Beneath The Stars.” And while it premiered at the Warsaw Film Festival last month, Alvarado hasn’t named the harassing director depicted in it until now. (Watch the clip exclusively above.)

Numerous attempts to reach Toback for comment were unsuccessful.

Alvarado said her encounter with Toback took place in 2011, when she was struggling to get her foot in the door in the movie business. She said Toback approached her on a New York City street and offered her a role. As detailed by the Los Angeles Times, more than 200 women have accused Toback of sexual misconduct, and many said he took a similar approach.

“He followed me to my apartment and said, ‘I’m a director, I’m a writer, and I have to work with you,’ and invited me to meet him at the Harvard Club,” Alvarado told TheWrap. She was suspicious, but decided to meet with Toback to see if it could lead to an opportunity, she said.

Alvarado went with her sister to meet Toback, where he said he wanted to get into her psyche so he could write a role for her, she said. Alvarado and Toback met again outside his apartment, and he said he forgot his wallet and asked her if she could come up with him, she said.

“He sort of coaxed me up, saying ‘Come on, what’s the big deal?'” she said. “And when I refused, he said, ‘What? You think I’m going to do something to you?’ in kind of a threatening manner. At the time, I thought it was absurd that he might molest me, and maybe he was being dramatic, so I just decided to go up.”

The opening scene in “Lost Beneath The Stars” follows what happened next almost precisely, she said.

In the clip, an aspiring actress played by Alvarado finds herself with a director in a darkly lit apartment. He makes sexual advances, and she asks if she can just read for the role, and he refuses.

“Look, I know a star when I see one and you need to be making art. Let’s partake in a trust exercise so I know we can work together,” the director says in the film. “There are two options. You can touch your p—y while I watch, or if you’re not comfortable with that, you can pinch my nipples while I whack off.”

Those were also Toback’s words, Alvarado said.

Alvarado said she told Toback she decided to decline the role and hailed a taxi. She said the director jumped in the cab with her, it drove off with both of them as he kept talking.

“I just felt so violated. I was thinking, ‘Oh my god, seriously guy?! You want to take a cab with me after you humiliated me?'”

But when she got to her stop, Alvarado said she tried to take the high road. “This is going to sound so incredibly self-righteous,” she said with a laugh, “but I said, ‘You seem incredibly lost and searching for something. I will pray for you.'”

The Los Angeles Times broke the first stories of Toback accusers just two days after Alvarado’s “Lost Beneath The Stars” debuted in Warsaw, Poland.

“It wasn’t until very recently when I started writing the film that I started talking about it,” she told TheWrap. “My parents didn’t find out about it until a few weeks ago.”

Alvarado said she never saw James Toback again, but upon reading the news coverage of his multiplying list of accusers, which now surpasses 200, according to the L.A. Times, she said she had a mix of emotions: sadness for the women, and relief that she was able to distance herself from him.

But most of all, she was surprised at how much her encounter matched the ones she read in the story, as if Toback had a script for preying on women.

Toback has denied all wrongdoing, telling Rolling Stone in a sharply-worded phone call that the women accusing him were ganging up on him and that the charges were “too stupid to waste any time on.”

“The stories these women told were incredibly similar,” said Alvarado. “I expected that there were other women he had done this to, but I was surprised by the specificity of the words that he used. It was so disgusting to hear.”