It was on October 11th, 1991, in Washington, when Anita Hill testified before a senate panel, about her claims that then Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas sexually harassed her.
Thomas denied the claims, denouncing the hearings as a “high-tech lynching.”
Thomas was eventually confirmed anyway.
Surprisingly (or maybe not-so-much), despite the fact that this was a story ripe with enough drama and intrigue to support several feature films (scripted or documentary), there’ve actually been very, very few movies (short or feature-length) made based on the case.
The only one that I’m immediately aware of was made 8 years later, in 1999 – a made-for-tv movie titled, Strange Justice, based on the investigative book of the same name on the Hill/Thomas case, written by Jane Mayer and Jill Abramson, that would air on the Showtime network.
The film starred Delroy Lindo as Clarence Thomas, and Regina Taylor as Anita Hill, with Ernest Dickerson directing. Mandy Patinkin, Paul Winfield and Louis Gossett Jr. co-starred.
With a cast and director of that caliber, as well as the substance of the story, it should’ve made for must-see cable TV, right?
The fact that it’s not even on DVD, maybe says something about how much interest there is/was in seeing it. It’s obviously not on Netflix; the only copy I found was on VHS on Amazon.com, being sold second-hand.
And unfortunately, I can’t say that I remember seeing it when it aired on Showtime way back when, so I can’t comment on its merits. I will note that it was nominated and did win a couple of awards – a Peabody and a Satellite award for Best Motion Picture Made For Television (both of those wins in the year 2000).
I couldn’t even find a trailer for it anywhere.
Skip ahead to yesterday’s news announcing the films selected for the 2013 Sundance Film Festival’s Out-Of-Competition Premieres and Documentary Premieres categories, and my discovering that a feature-length documentary on Anita Hill specifically, is one of the titles that will screen as a Doc Premiere.
Titled simply Anita, the film comes from Academy Award and Emmy Award-winning filmmaker, writer and producer Freida Mock.
Here’s how it’s described:
Anita Hill, an African-American woman, charges Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas with sexual harassment in explosive Senate hearings in 1991 – bringing sexual politics into the national consciousness and fueling 20 years of international debate on the issues.
Previously titled Anita – Speaking Truth to Power, the film follows “the life and times” of Anita Hill, with, of course, the above sexual harassment charge and its aftermath, in focus.
Given Mock’s stellar resume, I’d say that this should be a solid piece of documentary filmmaking, and I’m certainly interested in seeing it.
Unfortunately, there’s no media for it yet – clips, trailer especially – at least, nothing I could find. But once anything worth sharing surfaces, we’ll post.