‘I hope this sparks outrage’: Surprise Brett Kavanaugh Documentary Premieres at Sundance | sundance 2023

A secretly made documentary expanding on allegations of sexual assault against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh premiered at this year’s fair. sundance film festival.

Justicea last-minute addition to the agenda, it aims to shine a light not only on the women who have accused Kavanaugh, a candidate for Donald Trump, but also on the failed fbi investigation in the accusations.

“I hope this sparks outrage,” producer Amy Herdy said in a question-and-answer session after the premiere in Park City, Utah. “I hope this triggers action, I hope this triggers further investigation with actual subpoena powers.”

The film provides a timeline of the allegations, initially that Kavanaugh was accused by Christine Blasey Ford of sexual assault when she was 15 and he was 17. She alleged that he pinned her to a bed and groped her, and tried to rip her head off. clothing. before she ran away. Kavanaugh was also accused of sexual misconduct by Deborah Ramirez, who alleged that he exposed himself and shoved his penis into her face without her consent at a college party.

Kavanaugh denies the allegations. She turned down requests to participate in the documentary.

The first scene features Ford, half off camera, being interviewed by the film’s director, Doug Liman, whose credits include Mr and Mrs Smith and The Bourne Identity. Justice features a series of interviews with journalists, lawyers, psychologists and those who knew Ford and Ramírez.

“This was the kind of movie where people are terrified,” Liman said. “The people who chose to be in the film are heroes.”

In the film, Ramirez, who previously told his story to Ronan Farrow in the New Yorker, also shares her story in front of the camera. Referred to as someone who “worked hard so people wouldn’t know,” Ramirez’s story never got the space he deserved until long after Kavanaugh was confirmed in court in October 2018.

Ramírez details a Catholic upbringing, before explaining that her high grades landed her at Yale when the university was slowly diversifying its student body in the mid-1980s. In addition to being admitted only 15 years after women were admitted, Ramírez he was also biracial and working class. “My mom was worried,” she says emotionally in the documentary.

Friends at the time refer to her as “sweet and Bambi-like” and “extremely innocent”, but Ramírez tried to fit in by becoming a cheerleader and drinking with her peers. This, she says, put her in the orbit of Kavanaugh, who came from a privileged family and was known as a heavy drinker at the time (he is referred to in the film as someone who was generally “drunker than everyone else”). . Ramírez recounts the alleged act of her, when she was intoxicated and, she says, he forced her, without her consent, to touch Kavanaugh’s penis, which he had placed near her face.

Debora Ramirez
Debora Ramirez. Photo: AP

The film then details how circles around Ramirez and Kavanaugh responded, showing text messages of an argument as Ramirez’s allegations were about to go public, de Kavanaugh asking a mutual friend to defend him. Another friend refers to it as “a cover-up.”

The New Yorker included a statement from a student group at the time in support of Kavanaugh. A year later, the film shows that two of them emailed the New Yorker to remove their names from the statement.

Ramirez’s lawyers say they contacted Republican Sen. Jeff Flake, who was involved in Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings, to explain what happened to him. The next day, Flake called to delay the confirmation and insist on a week-long FBI investigation.

But the film details how the FBI failed to call the numerous witnesses recommended by Ramírez’s lawyers. Footage of the filmmakers meeting with a confidential source is shown playing a tape of Kavanaugh’s classmate Max Stier, now a prominent figure in Washington who runs a nonprofit organization, who allegedly saw Kavanaugh involved in a similar act of alleged exposure while intoxicated with a woman. student at a dorm party at Yale. The woman has chosen to remain anonymous and this is the first time this recording has been heard.

It was done during the week that the FBI was investigating Kavanaugh, and despite being notified by Stier, they did not speak to him. “You don’t talk to that guy, you don’t talk to anybody,” Liman said during the question-and-answer session.

The FBI tip line that was set up is known as “a graveyard,” with 4,500 tracks sent directly to the White House instead of being investigated. It’s known as another “cover-up.”

The filmmakers also spoke with another accuser who alleged misconduct but could not be included in the film. “We talked to people who had other allegations, and we were very careful and thorough, and it’s not to disbelieve them, but the stories you see here are the ones that can be corroborated,” Herdy told the audience.

Justice has been done in secret for the past year, with confidentiality agreements signed by all involved. The project was self-financed by Liman, making his documentary debut. he told the hollywood reporter that the supreme court has a “special meaning” for him, since his father was a lawyer and activist and his brother a federal judge. He was frustrated by the FBI investigation into Kavanaugh that “never happened,” and sought the help of renowned documentary producers Liz Garbus and Herdy, both with specialized experience filming sexual assault allegations, to get the job done that he considered unfinished. although it barely started at all.

In the question-and-answer session, he expressed the importance of secrecy, speaking about “the machinery that is set in motion against anyone who dares to speak” and the awareness that this machinery would be ignited in the film if it were made public.

“There would have been some kind of injunction,” he said. “This film would not have been shown here.”

It only screened at Sundance on Wednesday before being officially announced on Thursday. It opened in a sold-out theater on Friday.

In recent years, the festival has become the regular home for a series of investigative documentaries on alleged sexual predators in the public eye. Figures such as Michael Jackson, Bill Cosby, Russell Simmons and former Sundance mainstay Harvey Weinstein have been featured.

Since Justice’s announcement, Herdy confirmed that they have been “getting more leads”, which started coming in just 30 minutes after the press release went out. Liman added that the film, which she is seeking a distributor for, may now need to be expanded and re-edited.

Herdy added: “It’s not over.”

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