'Anita' Director: Timing Is Everything10 May, 2014 By: Chris Tribbey
In the 20-plus years since Anita Hill became a household name, the attorney and educator had turned down offer after offer from filmmakers to document her experience testifying before the U.S. Senate about alleged sexual harassment of then-nominated Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas.
So what changed with filmmaker Freida Mock?
“She just said, ‘yes,’” said Mock, director of the documentary Anita, in theaters now and on disc June 24 from First Run Features. “She decided she felt comfortable doing it with me. It was a compliment.”
It didn’t hurt that Hill had seen several of Mock’s previous documentaries, including Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision, which took home an Academy Award for Best Feature Documentary. But more importantly, Mock said Hill thought it was finally time to share her thoughts.
“The new generation may not know who she is, but the issue of sexual harassment in the workplace is still very relevant today,” Mock said.
Hill and Mock agreed to do the documentary in 2009 and began filming on Martin Luther King Day, Jan. 19, 2010. They didn’t finish the work until three years later, to the day. The result is an examination of the consequences Hill suffered for speaking out and the impacts her Congressional testimony has had on workplace sexual harassment in the decades since.
The film is also a highly personal look at Hill herself, an aspect Mock was surprised to see come out of all the interviews.
“She’s a very private person,” Mock said. “Most people only remember her in a blue dress frozen in time. This is a full portrait of who she really is. And she has all the qualities of someone you’d want in a friend.”
Bonus features on the disc include several interviews, video clips and a speech Hill delivered in 2011 for the 20th anniversary of the Senate hearings.
“It was a wonderful talk, warm,” Mock said. “It resonated with the audience.”