PARK CITY, Utah (AP) — Anita Hill made national headlines in 1991 when she testified that then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas had made sexually inappropriate comments toward her, giving prominent exposure to the idea of sexual harassment. Hill was verbally attacked, and Thomas was confirmed.
More than 20 years later, director Freida Mock explores Hill’s landmark testimony and the resulting social and political changes in the documentary “Anita,” premiering Saturday at the Sundance Film Festival.
“It was the right time for me because I just realized that, since I work with young people at a university, I realized how their orientation was so visual — visual in the sense of moving pictures,” Hill said in an interview Friday, “and this was really an opportunity to have a story told in a way that was going to continue and be available and informative to people of a new generation.”
Mock said the 20th anniversary of Hill’s testimony was the perfect time to “benchmark the event.”
“It offered kind of a great bookend to look at the story: Her personal story as well as our country’s story, and what’s happened socially and politically from what Anita did in terms of raising that issue about sexual misconduct,” the director said.
The two women spent more than three years making the film, which goes back further than the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings to Hill’s childhood. It also looks forward, exploring the young activists working today to eradicate gender discrimination and promote equality.
Hill’s testimony changed the course of her career.
“What ultimately happened was I realized the issue did not just shrink,” she said. “Even just explaining what sexual harassment laws are did not shrink the issues. It was almost like it was an onion: You started peeling at one layer and then you realized there were all these different layers.”
After receiving a call from a stranger who revealed that he had been sexually abused, Hill was determined to continue the national conversation about sexual discrimination.
“At that point, I realized that this was an issue that resonated with women. It was an issue that resonated with men. It was an issue that was about sexual harassment. It was an issue about sexual abuse and sexual violence, and it just kept going from there,” she said. “It did change not only where I worked, but it changed the entire nature of my work.”
Hill said she summoned the courage to testify against Thomas because of her love of the law.
“For me it was really about the court, and the integrity of the court was at stake,” she said. “And for someone who is a lawyer and a law teacher who is looking at young people every day and saying, ‘Believe in the law, it’s important, it’s significant.’
“Then I realized that it was part of my responsibility as a citizen, as someone who cared about the court, whose life had been changed because of some of the rulings of the court, and you summon up the courage.”
She began to develop that courage even as a child, the youngest of 13.
“My parents raised half of their children in a segregated society, so they were really supreme mentors in teaching people how to be dignified in circumstances that really don’t respect you, don’t respect you as a person, as a whole human being with contributions to make,” Hill said. “So I was schooled in that way even before I knew it was happening, because that was they had to do for their children.”
Mock said she was honored to make the film and share Hill’s story with viewers too young to remember her testimony. And Hill continues to do the work that found her in 1991.
“It’s rewarding to be able to commit your life’s work to it, but it’s also challenging to get a handle on,” Hill said. “But it’s a challenge I feel privileged to be a part of undertaking.”
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This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (10/15-10/21)
31 photos Launch gallery
1. Just a NY girl with BIG dreams....
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2. HAPPY CHILDREN=QUALITY PARENTING. We don't always see eye to eye on everything and that's normal. We're human beings. But we come together and do it right for what's important, the kids. We are not enemies, we are parents. And we are parents 1st. S/O to @monyettashaw for making Mason's bday memorable. S/O to @itscrystalsmith at home taking care of our other lil' Prince. ❤️❤️❤️ THIS IS WHAT CO-PARENTING LOOKS LIKE. #Blessed #Happy #AboveTheDrama #BiggerThanUs
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3. So happy to finally be able to share with you all that I’m the new Global Brand Ambassador for @Revlon! Follow my day on RevlonSnaps. Yay! Choose Love, Everybody! #RevlonXCiara #chooselove #ad
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4. Glam on point!!!@makeupbymotoko & @shaylinjoneshair #easybreezy @lifetimetv #beachesmovie #january2017 😘
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5. ✨True love ✨📸: @jessiemarrerophotography
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7. Today was not easy..but by the grace of God we all got through it. Words cannot express our gratitude for all of your Prayers, Positive thoughts and Support for us throughout the years. Tommy will be missed but most certainly never forgotten...And PLEASE don't ask "Where's Martin?.." he was there too...just not in this picture. Lol! God bless you all.. #LoveConquersAll #MartinShow
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9. West coast get ready for #RockyHorror. I will be live tweeting again. #letsdothetimewarpagain
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10. #THEKEYS pre order yours now ... Available everywhere #NOV22 #WeTheBest 🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑
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11. We about to ROCK at #KCABlackBall!! All for our life-changing effort to end 🌎 AIDS.
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12. Today's #SNAPJACK is brought to you by @yazzthegreatest 😂😂😂💋💋💋
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13. Damn girl you kinda old to be headed to the Go Go. You coming in at the age they leaving. LMAO
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14. Daddy daycare B-Boxin with @acewellstucker @shopraisingace
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15. #FBF Naviyd & URV "LIL MONSTERS"
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16. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ONE OF THE BIGGEST LEGENDS IN OUR HIPHOP HISTORY! @snoopdogg CONTINUED BLESSING AND LOVE FAMILY!!!!! REAL OG!
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17. Thank you for a beautiful night VSU! Let's do it again! #HOMECOMING
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18. Had a great time this morning with my familia Erica, Griff & Truth!!
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19. Check out my interview on @essence facebook live. #inmyownwords #nycpromo #day2
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20. #She💋 #tbt #TheCoveAtTheAtlantis #DawgPawsAndAll
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21. Bae #retailtherapy
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22. Why me and @coryhardrict got the same pose... and notee... new mouth #naked
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23. When my husband is my personal 'hype-man'! it kills me every time! 💜😂 #WHATNOW #lostfiles📷
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24. Diggy Simmons
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25. Hand full of @jacquieaiche 💙💎💍 @esnail_la 💅🏾
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26. SuperSoulers! You can watch my interview with Carl Lentz live from my Facebook page, tomorrow at 11a ET| 8a PT. #SuperSoulSunday
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27. 💋 .. When the friendship is easy like Sunday morning. ☀️
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28. Sunday mornings are the best........... hugs and cuddles with my angel
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29. #huggar16 #hellohuggars
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30. My gym is everywhere!.. #RnBMoney #TheGeneral 📸: @twelvepastseven
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31. Nothing I would rather be doing... Rocko setting up our movie, Romelō working on a puzzle & Laiyah singing and sharing all she's learning at school... I'm so grateful for the joy they've brought into my life ... Praying for peace , joy & love in the home of EVERY family ♥️ #HeadScarfPJSunday LOL 😂
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