Back to IndieWire

Rick Famuyiwa Will Direct Kerry Washington in HBO’s Anita Hill/Clarence Thomas Project

Rick Famuyiwa Will Direct Kerry Washington in HBO's Anita Hill/Clarence Thomas Project

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 scripted feature that comes to mind 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. 

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).

Skip ahead to 2013, when a feature documentary on Anita Hill premiered at the Sundance Film Festival that year, in the Documentary Premieres category.

Titled simply “Anita,” the film came from Academy Award and Emmy Award-winning filmmaker, writer and producer Freida Mock. 

It was billed as “the life and times” of Anita Hill, with, of course, the above sexual harassment charge and its aftermath, in focus (read our review of it here).

Samuel Goldwyn Films eventually picked it up and released it in the USA last year.

That’s it! The only 2 films I know of on the subject.

And finally, announced early last month, Kerry Washington is now attached to star in a scripted movie on the Anita Hill/Clarence Thomas Supreme Court hearings, titled “Confirmation,” which is set up at HBO! 

Washington is of course going to play Anita Hill, as well as executive produce the telepic, which will be penned by Academy Award nominated writer Susannah Grant (“Erin Brockovich”), and will be produced by Groundswell Productions in association with ABC Signature Studios. 

As for who will direct, Rick Famuyiwa, fresh off his hit Sundance movie “Dope,” who was previously in contention for the job, has now officially signed on, and will indeed direct the film for HBO.

No word yet on what actor will play Clarence Thomas.

Shooting will begin this summer

This Article is related to: Television and tagged ,