Anita: Speaking Truth to Power is a documentary that captures the famous Senate hearings around the sexual harassment claims that attorney Anita Hill made against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas in the early 1990’s.
The documentary out now on DVD begins with a phone call that was placed by Thomas’ wife years later, asking Hill to come clean about her allegations. Afterward we are given a first-hand look at the proceedings and a look into the background of Hill, who was brave to come forward with her allegations, and also at the Senate grilling her, asking whether she wanted to be a martyr or whether she had some hidden agenda, i.e., being a woman scorned, that made her come forward.
An entire country watched as a poised, beautiful African-American woman sat before a Senate committee of 14 white men and with a clear, unwavering voice recounted the repeated acts of sexual harassment she had endured while working with nominee Thomas. Hill’s graphic testimony was a turning point for gender equality in the United States and ignited a political firestorm about sexual harassment and power in the workplace that resonates still today.
Against a backdrop of sex, politics, and race, Anita: Speaking Truth to Power reveals the story of a woman who has empowered millions to stand up for equality and justice. Directed by Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Freida Mock, the film celebrates Hill’s legacy and provides a rare glimpse into her private life and career.
Here is a sampling of what others have to say about the documentary:
“Political theater that still has the power to make your blood boil.”- Los Angeles Times
“A powerful time capsule, deftly edited. It’s a reminder of what we were and, thanks to Hill, how far we’ve come.”- Washington Post
“One woman, stepping into a mess of political, racial and sexual power plays…makes for rapt viewing.”- Entertainment Weekly
“CRITIC’S PICK! ‘Anita’ is an important historical document about an event that prompted a larger cultural conversation about sexual harassment. But, perhaps more important, it conveys Ms. Hill’s journey from an accuser alone to an activist who shares with, and listens to, others.”- The New York Times
“This intelligent and comprehensive documentary not only conveys the genuine nature of Hill herself, but also recreates the national sensibility of the time, an era when sexual harassment in the workplace was not yet a national concern… [a] thoughtful and quietly powerful film.”- The Hollywood Reporter
I enjoyed this documentary, as it was amazing to see Hill during the hearings and to hear Thomas say that the Senate inquiry was akin to a lynching. As Thomas’ wife sat and listened, agreeing with her husband, Hill’s family, from humble beginnings in Arkansas and then later in Oklahoma, also turned out in full force to support her, as she underwent a grueling and embarrassing inquiry by Republicans who spoke of Long Dong Silver, pubic hairs and coke cans. However, it is noted that the Democrats on the inquiry, including Vice President Joe Biden, didn’t do much to help support Hill or stop the witch hunt that unfolded.
I remember watching this on television more than 20 years ago, but watching it again on this DVD brought everything back to vivid remembrance.
Anita: Speaking Truth to Power is available now. Extra DVD materials include Finding Home: A speech at the University of South Carolina • Speaking Truth to Power: A performance curated by Purva Panday Cullman & Eve Ensler
For more information, visit http://firstrunfeatures.com/anita.html.