The Fine Print
It’s been more than 20 years since Anita Hill was subpoenaed to testify about alleged sexual harassment by Clarence Thomas, who was undergoing Senate confirmation for the Supreme Court at the time.
Hill’s testimony sparked a national conversation on the issue of workplace sexual harassment, but many questions were left unanswered at the hearing’s end.
In a new documentary, “Anita,” Hill tells her story for the first time on film since the hearing. And the film’s director, Freida Mock, says the film tries to bring resolution to the hearing’s many unanswered questions.
Mock says one of the issues the film addresses is the backroom agreement struck between then-chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Vice President Joe Biden, and Republicans on the committee, not to call three other witnesses who were standing by and ready to testify on Hill’s behalf.
“Why were not the three witnesses who were subpoenaed - and were sitting on that weekend to testify - why were these three women not called to testify who could have corroborated the testimony of Ms. Hill?” Mock asks.
The film begins in Hill’s office, and the audience hears a voicemail that Ginni Thomas, the wife of Justice Thomas, left for Hill 19 years after her testimony. In the message, Thomas asks for Hill to apologize to her and her husband for her claims of sexual harassment.
“It certainly said a lot about, symbolized what that hearing meant today,” Mock says, as she recalls listening to the message with Hill.
She adds that Hill thought the call was a prank initially.
“She said she thought, 'Is this a prank?’” Mock says. “She didn't think … that would be Ginni Thomas calling her at office Saturday morning at 7:30.”
Mock says the film also sheds new light on how the country viewed the issue of sexual harassment at the time of the Thomas hearings.
“We didn't know how unknown this issue of sexual harassment was to the general public and, certainly, to the senior senators listening to her in the hearings,” Mock says. “I think women knew, but it was an issue that was not talked about.”
The documentary is told from Hill’s point of view. It does not tell Thomas’ version of events.
"Anita" will be released in theaters this fall. For updates on the film, visit www.facebook.com/anitahillmovie.
To hear more about the documentary, including whether Mock believes Hill’s account of sexual harassment after years of research, check out this episode of The Fine Print.
ABC's Eric Wray, Alexandra Dukakis, Paul Dougherty, and Mark Banks contributed to this episode.