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film review

ANITA (2014). Directed by Freida Mock, an entire country watched transfixed as a poised, beautiful African-American woman in a blue dress sat before a Senate committee of 14 white men and with a clear, unwavering voice recounted the repeated acts of sexual harassment she had endured while working with U.S. Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas.

When Anita Hill took her seat before an all-white Senate committee in 1991, the optics said nearly as much about the systemic dynamics of race, gender and power in American politics as any of the specifics of the case at hand.

Here was a black woman facing a virtual wall of Washington resistance. But the case was explosive. Hill, a former assistant to then-Supreme-Court-nominee Clarence Thomas, had come forward with allegations that she had been subjected to ongoing sexual harassment from Thomas.

Academy award-winner (for Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision) Freida Lee Mock's account of Hill's ordeal and inspirational legacy leans a little too heavily on the latter to let the former fully flourish. It seems rather optimistically insistent on making a case that America has come a long way in 20 years, when the truth is 20 years is a mere historical heartbeat.

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