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 last year, when a feature documentary on Anita Hill premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, in the Documentary Premieres category.
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.
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.
Announced last summer, Samuel Goldwyn Films acquired U.S. rights to Anita.
“We are excited to be working with the talented Freida Mock in bringing Anita’s powerful, life-changing story to not only the people who lived through the circus of the hearings but also to a new generation. Anita’s impact on the course of history over the last 20 plus years shouldn’t be forgotten and this film celebrates her legacy,” said Peter Goldwyn, Senior Vice President of Samuel Goldwyn Films.
Goldwyn has set an official release date of March 21, 2014 for the film, likely in a limited release (at least, at the start). The closer that date approaches, the more we’ll know about what exact cities and theaters the film will open in.
A first release trailer for the film is now out, and embedded below: