Inside the Surprise Sundance Premiere of Brett Kavanaugh’s Dr
Director Doug Liman’s surprise documentary, “Justice,” about the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh, premieres Friday at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival.
A late addition to the independent festival’s lineup of specials, the film had its only public showing during the event — announced at Thursday’s Sundance Fund inaugural press conference — to a packed house at Park City’s Park Avenue Theatre, with Lyman present to greet friends and giveaways. Hug in the front of the room.
Kavanaugh was narrowly confirmed to the Supreme Court in 2018 after a controversial confirmation process that included allegations of sexual assault. In 2019, it was reported that by order of the White House and Senate Republicans, the FBI had limited its investigations into accusations of Kavanaugh’s past sexual misconduct.
Lehman, a filmmaker best known for his work on films such as “Swingers,” “The Bourne Identity,” “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” and “Edge of Tomorrow,” explained in a statement that “Justice” picks up where the FBI’s investigation into Brit failed. Sadly Kavanaugh.
He added, “The film surveys our judicial process and the institutions behind it, highlighting bureaucratic missteps and political power grabs that still greatly affect our nation today.” Justice is his first documentary.
Oh, and the last songs played on the PA system before the show starts? Marvin Gaye’s “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” and Frank Sinatra’s “My Way”.
Here are the main points from “Justice” and the ensuing Q&A:
1. This may be obvious, but the title “justice” has two meanings here. It is intended as a reference to Kavanaugh’s surname and an allegation that the FBI and the political establishment have made a miscarriage of justice for those who have come forward with allegations by not adequately pursuing them.
2. Christine Blasey Ford, who alleged during Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing that he sexually abused her when they were teenagers in the 1980s, is not a major source in the film. Although the doc begins with Ford asking Lyman why he is interested in this, and what his goals are in making the film, it only appears in archival footage. Instead, her story is primarily told through her congressional testimony and interviews with her friends. “I felt that Dr. Ford had given so much to the country…she had done more than her part for the country,” Lehman said. “I’ve done enough for 10 lives.”
3. “Laughter is the most memorable memory.” Deborah Ramirez, who claims Kavanaugh exposed himself to her at a party when they were Yale students together in the ’80s, appears in the film to tell her story — and like Ford in her public statements, Ramirez secretes Kavanaugh’s laughter between them. memories.
4. THE FILM FEATURES A POWERFUL SCREWING FROM MAX STEER. Steer allegedly witnessed sexual misconduct by Kavanaugh during a “drunken rooming party” while at Yale—and reported to senators and the FBI after Kavanaugh was nominated, though the FBI failed to investigate the allegation. Although not shown in the film, the recording is powerful: The alleged incident, he says, involves a woman whose identity remains unknown because she chose not to reveal it — due to a lack of memory during a night of drinking, yes, but also because she saw what happened to Ford after speaking out.
5. Context, context and context. The film includes interviews with experts who talk about how traumatic memory works in order to establish the credibility of Ford and Ramirez’s claims. There are also debates about the media discourse around Ford’s allegations in 2018, which in some cases attempted to portray the script as “boys will be boys,” or to counter the accusation by asking, “Why ruin a man’s life because of something he did as a child?” The movie portrays itself, in part, as an indictment of a broader culture that encourages us to forgive and forget misconduct by privileged groups.
6. According to the documentary, to this day those who sent tips about the allegations against Kavanaugh have not been contacted by the FBI for official investigation. “I hope this sparks outrage,” said producer Amy Hurdy — which ultimately led to “a real investigation with subpoena powers.”
7. According to Lehman, the terrifying effect remains against the defendants: “This is the kind of movie where people are terrified,” he said. “The mechanism that was set against anyone who dared speak up, we knew the machines were going to be triggered in this movie… We live in a climate where no matter what we got in this movie, the people who support the status quo keep supporting it.”