History, politics, courage in Anita Hill documentary 

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  • Anita Hill’s 1991 testimony detailing sexual harassment she experienced from a Supreme Court justice nominee is the subject of a gripping new film.
A worthy subject and an efficient retelling of familiar events make the documentary “Anita: Speaking Truth to Power” a gripping consideration, more than 20 years later, of the hearings in which Oklahoma law professor Anita Hill told a Senate committee about sexual harassment she experienced from Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas.

Using interviews and footage, filmmaker Freida Mock (“Maya Lin: A Strong Vision”) revisits the 1991 hearings, in which 14 white male senators grilled Hill and repeatedly asked her to detail the explicit comments and unwanted advances she alleged Thomas made when she worked with him years earlier.

The Republican senators tried to crush Hill. The Democrats cowered after Thomas, a black man picked by the first George Bush to replace Thurgood Marshall on the high court, called Hill’s statements a “high-tech lynching.” It was Hill, not Thomas, whose character came under attack.

Observers — New York Times Editor Jill Abramson and attorney Charles Ogletree among them — explain that Hill’s testimony was almost certainly truthful. They detail how gender, race and vicious politics led senators to vilify Hill and confirm Thomas.

The film also serves as a profile of Hill, who discusses the experience and how it inspired her to become a public voice against sexual harassment. Despite a sometimes too adulatory tone, the movie is a relevant history lesson, a captivating real-life political thriller and a moving tribute to a woman of courage.


Anita: Speaking Truth to Power

Starring Anita Hill, Charles Ogletree, Jill Abramson, Jane Mayer

Written by Freida Mock, Ken Chowder

Directed by Freida Mock

Not rated

Running time 1 hour, 27 minutes

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Anita Katz

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