Sundance doc "Anita" revisits the Clarence Thomas hearings

Oscar™-winning team of Freida Lee Mock and alum Terry Sanders on a turning point in American social history

Anita Hill

Posted on January 24th 2013 in Announcement

TFT alums at Sundance represented two standout documentary features, Alex Gibney's "We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks," which sold out its Festival screenings, and the rapturously reviewed "Anita."

"Anita" was directed by Oscar-winner Freida Lee Mock ("Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision," with her husband, two-time Oscar-winning TFT alumnus Terry Sanders '54, MA '67, serving as as Executive in Charge of Production through their company, The American Film Foundation.

The film chronicles attorney Anita Hill's famous testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1991, in which she accused then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment, and the media circus that erupted as a result.

Partially funded by a 2011 Documentary Film Fund Grant from The Sundance Institute, "Anita" was highly praised by "Variety" critic John Anderson:

Mock is unabashedly in Hill's corner throughout the movie. History, and the visuals, are on her side as well: The image of the 14 graying white male members of the Judiciary Committee -- the Republicans on the attack, the Democrats petrified of opposing George H.W. Bush's Black nominee -- interrogating and humiliating a young professional Black woman is almost as appalling as their actual behavior. Mock plucks the right moments from what back then seemed an endless, shameless grilling of Hill, notably Sen. Arlen Spector's willful myopia and, later, Sen. Alan Simpson's McCarthyite slandering of Hill, talking of all the calls and letters he'd gotten about her, and patting his empty pockets.

Mock has also directed the feature documentaries "G-Dog" (2012), "Sing China!" (2009) and "Wrestling With Angels" (2006), about playwright Tony Kushner, and the shorts "Lt. Watada" (2011) and "Sing!" (2001). The latter, about a Los Angeles community children's choir, was an Academy Award nominee for Best Documentary Short Film in 2002.

With his late brother Denis Sanders '52, MA '55, Terry Sanders made the first student film ever to win an Academy Award, when their "Time Out of War" won the Best Live Action Short subject prize in 1953. The film was inducted into the Library of Congress National Film Registry in 2007.

Sanders produced Mock's 1994 Oscar-winning Best Documentary Feature, “Maya Lin: A Strong, Clear Vision,” and directed the documentary features “Four Stones for Kanemitsu” (1973), “Slow Fires: On the Preservation of the Human Record” (1987), a pioneering TV special about film preservation and digital decay, “Return with Honor (1998) and the recent “Fighting for Life” (2008), about the training of US Army medics in Iraq.

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