Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Anita (2013 film)

Written and directed by Freida Lee Mock, Anita is the story of Anita Hill and her landmark hearing in the U.S. Senate where she accused Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment. The documentary explores Hill’s life and the events that led to taking her case against Thomas in front of the world. Even as Hill would become an icon for women to stand up against harassment. The result is a fascinating and engrossing film about one of the most important moments in sociological history.

In the fall of 1991, George H.W. Bush announced that Clarence Thomas was to be nominated as a judge in the Supreme Court when a woman named Anita Hill was interviewed by the FBI as she revealed that Thomas had sexually harassed her several years ago. After that got leaked to the press, Hill testified in front of the Senate where she revealed in graphic detail about what Thomas did to her during their time working for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 1982 which she left a year later. The film explores not just the trial but also Hill’s life before and after the event as the trial was considered a huge moment in discussing the idea of sexual harassment to the public.

The film opens with Thomas’ wife Ginny leaving a phone message to Hill’s office at Brandeis University where she is a law professor as Hill wonders if it’s really Ginny Thomas or someone pretending to be her. Hill’s life is talked about as well as why she was silent for so many years before revealing what happened to her to the U.S. Senate. It plays into ideas of what was taboo as there were those who knew and worked with Hill during that time knew that something had happened. Among those were men including a colleague who knew the truth as he wasn’t sure if was to support her as black men had reputation for not standing up for women. Yet, he would ask that question if it had been his own daughter that was harassed.

Freida Lee Mock does keep things simple as she doesn’t go for any style with the help of her cinematographers Jesse Beecher, Bestor Cam, Erik Daarstad, Don Lenzer, and Hiroki Miyano. Even in the interviews while Mock also goes to places like Oklahoma where Hill was from as well as showcase moments where she does have a career as a spokeswoman as she is considered a heroine for some. Especially as her testimony did lead to awareness of sexual harassment in various places as things did happen. Hill revealed that she had no agenda to do something but rather make the government aware of who they’re putting into the Supreme Court. Especially as Hill was seen as a sympathetic figure even though Thomas did become a Supreme Court judge to a polarizing reaction.

With the help of editor Brian Johnson and sound editor Aaron Glascock, Mock covers the trial and various news reports about the trial as it showcases a lot of what was happening as well as those who were thing including a couple of journalists who saw the trial as more of a witch hunt than something more serious. Especially as Mock would interview young women who weren’t born when the trial happened as they see it as a landmark event in the history of the world where things did happen. The film’s music by Lili Haydn is terrific as it’s quite quaint where it doesn’t underplay the drama nor does it embellish as it’s very low-key.

Anita is a remarkable film from Freida Lee Mock. It’s a film that showcases a woman who managed to overcome humiliation as well as manage to be a voice for women dealing with harassment. It’s also a film that play into a woman who would do something that was very unheard of at the time and actually create some kind of change in the way the world works. In the end, Anita is a superbly compelling film from Freida Lee Mock.

© thevoid99 2015

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