2013 Sundance Docs in Focus: ANITA

anitaHeading into the first title in this year’s Documentary Premieres section: Freida Mock’s ANITA, a reflection on Anita Hill’s testimony about Clarence Thomas upon his Supreme Court nomination and its lasting impact.

Sundance Program Description:

You know who you are—don’t ever doubt yourself. —Erma Hill to her daughter, Anita

On October 11, 1991, a poised young law professor sent shock waves through the nation as she sat before the Senate Judiciary Committee intrepidly testifying to the lewd behavior of a Supreme Court nominee. Twenty years later, Academy Award winner and Sundance veteran Freida Mock (WRESTLING WITH ANGELS screened at the 2006 Festival) brings us ANITA,which crystallizes the sexist power dynamics in the room that day and unravels the impact of that lightning-rod moment on Anita Hill’s life and the broader discussion of gender inequality in America.

Contemporary interviews with Hill and her allies and unsettling archival footage reveal the way her attempt to report confidentially on Clarence Thomas’s conduct quickly became a perverse and vicious public attack on her character and credibility. With Thomas playing the race card and a bevy of male senators lobbing ideological bombs, Hill’s hearing became a charade of justice. Yet her audacity to speak truth detonated a national debate about sexual harassment that revolutionized gender politics. As girls and women express what Hill’s sacrifice has meant to them, we’re moved to shout, “We believe you, Anita.”

Some Background:
Mock is a Sundance veteran twice over (WRESTLING WITH ANGELS: PLAYWRIGHT TONY KUSHNER (2006) and RETURN WITH HONOR (1999)), a five time Oscar nominee (winning for MAYA LIN: A STRONG CLEAR VISION), and two time Emmy nominee (winning for AMERICAN MASTERS: LILLIAN GISH: THE ACTOR’S LIFE FOR ME). Joining her as executive producers are Impact Partners’ Geralyn Dreyfous (Sundance alums including THE INVISIBLE WAR (2012), MISS REPRESENTATION (2011), CONNECTED (2011), SERGIO (2009), and BORN INTO BROTHELS (2004), as well as fellow 2013 Documentary Premieres title THE CRASH REEL and World Cinema Documentary Competition title THE SQUARE), Regina Kulik Scully (THE INVISIBLE WAR and MISS REPRESENTATION), and Freada Klein, who has worked on issues of sexual harassment in the workplace since the 1970s.

Why You Should Watch:
Hill is a wonderfully open, self-possessed subject, sympathetic without being cast in an easy “victim” role. The film is an extension of her mantra, “speaking truth to power” – the title of her 1997 memoir – providing a look at the Anita Hill of 1991 and of today. Mock clearly articulating the issues at the core of the Hill/Thomas firestorm, and the lasting legacy it has had – not only for her but for other women who recognized their own experiences in her brave testimony and in the shameful way she was treated.

More Info:
For screening dates and times at Sundance, click the link in the first paragraph.

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Filed under Documentary, Film, Film Festivals, Recommendations, Sundance

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