Anita Hill's documentary "Anita" made its debut this weekend at the Sundance Film Festival. The woman at the heart of a national scandal that divided the nation in the early 1990s has chosen to use film to tell her story all over again for a new generation.
"It is the right time," Hill told the Associated Press when asked why she chose to make the film today. After 20 years, Hill's story is relatively unknown to new generations- something that worries her. But few alive during the Hill-Thomas hearings can forget the drama that ensued when, during Supreme Court Judge Clarence Thomas' confirmation hearings, she alleged that he had sexually harassed her. Her testimony divided the nation, with part of the country siding with Hill and the other part firmly siding with Thomas.
Thomas was eventually confirmed and remains a Supreme Court Justice today.
Although Hill's name remained in the public memory, she largely fell out of sight, choosing to teach and take a low-profile job. But in 2010, everything was brought to light again when Thomas' wife, Virginia, called Hill and asked her to apologize to her husband.
"Good morning Anita Hill, it's Ginni Thomas," the recorded voice message said. "I just wanted to reach across the airwaves and the years and ask you to consider something. I would love you to consider an apology sometime and some full explanation of why you did what you did with my husband. So give it some thought. And certainly pray about this and hope that one day you will help us understand why you did what you did."
Criticism against Thomas' actions were swift, though she maintained she was merely "extending an olive branch to her after all these years," The New York Times reported.
Now Hill is having her say at the Sundance Film Festival. She explained why she chose to make the documentary in an interview.
"It was the right time for me because I just realized that, since I work with young people at a university, I realized how their orientation was so visual – visual in the sense of moving pictures. And this was really an opportunity to have a story told in a way that was going to continue and be available and informative to people of a new generation," she told the Associated Press.
A call from a stranger who revealed his own sexual abuse helped Hill decide to push forward with her plan to tell more of her story.
"At that point, I realized that this was an issue that resonated with women. It was an issue that resonated with men. It was an issue that was about sexual harassment. It was an issue about sexual abuse and sexual violence, and it just kept going from there," she said.
Fans are praising the film for its honesty and Hill's courage.
"LOVED the documentary on Anita Hill," tweeted Melissa Silverstein. "So amazing, moving, revelatory and empowering."
"Everyone needs to see the Anita Hill doc at #sundance2013. What an amazing example of courage!" added Tiffany Shlain.