Anita: Speaking Truth to Power Directed by Freida Lee Mock June 23 at 7:30 p.m. at National Portrait Gallery

More than 20 years have passed since Anita Hill testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee about Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas’ workplace behavior. The unseemly proceedings—a full-blown media circus involving protracted discussions of pubic hair, big-breasted women, and Long Dong Silver by sweaty, condescending senators—is faithfully retold in Freida Mock’s Anita: Speaking Truth to Power. The committee’s questioning quickly devolved into character assassination—including accusations Hill had a martyr complex and was “a scorned woman”—before Thomas successfully shifted the dialogue by decrying what he called “a high-tech lynching for uppity blacks.” But Hill’s testimony ignited a nationwide conversation about sexual harassment, and she has since emerged as an icon for women’s rights in the workplace. While the film illustrates Hill’s extraordinary resilience in the face of harsh opposition, the narrative feels somewhat incomplete; the filmmakers draw no connections between her experience and the misogyny that continues to fester on Capitol Hill (see: Rep. Todd Akin) while specifics of the case itself are never addressed. (A voicemail left for Hill by Thomas’ wife demanding an apology in 2010 is quickly glossed over.) Anita: Speaking Truth to Power will likely incense younger viewers not familiar with the initial controversy but for everyone else, it adds little to the well-documented drama surrounding the events.

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