Unsilenced: New Anita Hill Documentary Tells Her Story, Premieres At Sundance

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January 25, 2013 ‐ By Ann Brown
Frieda Mock and Anita Hill at the Sundance premiere of the documentary "Anita." Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

Frieda Mock and Anita Hill at the Sundance premiere of the documentary “Anita.” Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

In 1991, Anita Hill, a young  law professor, testified in front of a Senate Judiciary Committee that her former mentor and then-Supreme Court justice nominee Clarence Thomas has sexually harassed her in the workplace.

Now after 22 years of silence, Anita Hill tells her story in a documentary, Anita, that debuted this week at the Sundance Film Festival. Over the years, many have tried to get Hill to go into detail about the entire experience, but she declined, preferring to speak on behalf of women’s equality. She moved on to become a professor of law, social policy, and women’s studies at Brandeis University, a position she still holds today.

But when Freida Mock, Academy Award-winning director of Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision, approached Hill, the professor finally agreed. “You feel really flattered when someone as accomplished as she is approaches you,” Hill told The Morning Sun newspaper.

“I can never go back to the person I was at that moment,” Hill said during a brief interview inside a lounge on Park City’s Main Street. “We grow. We develop. We move on. Hopefully, we evolve into that person we want to be.”

The film follows Hill’s story from her rural childhood in Oklahoma. “The youngest of 13 children, her parents raised her under the saying familiar to many black children, ‘You’ve got to be twice as good to get half as much,’” reports the newspaper. Hill excelled in school and landed at Yale Law School, where she  student graduated with honors in 1980. She was admitted to the District of Columbia Bar that same year.  The film goes up to present day, and include her long-term relationship with Chuck Malone.

“Always at the center, though, is Hill’s testimony against then-Supreme Court Justice nominee Clarence Thomas. It defined her, but also limited her,” writes The Morning Sun.

The film also reveals that in “basement file cabinets, she keeps 25,000 letters that she’s received over the years, both from women with accounts of harassment they suffered and fathers upset over what their daughters have had to endure in the workplace.”

“I still see people who cry when they see me, or they go back to that place where they’re really angry,” Hill says in the film.

After the jump, we’ve got a Sundance interview clip with Hill and Mock.

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  • Reese

    Wow she has aged well. Although the Clarence Thomas hearings were before my time. I’ve heard about them and it’s shame that sexual harassment is still so tolerated and looked over in the workplace. I feel for the woman and some men who dread going to work because somebody at their job is being inappropriate towards them.

  • Ebby

    She looks great, go Anita Hill!