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- A new documentary about misconduct allegations against Justice Brett Kavanaugh premiered on Friday.
- The film was a last-minute addition to Sundance and was kept under wraps until Thursday.
- The filmmakers said they started getting new tips about Kavanaugh right after the film was announced.
After a surprise announcement that a documentary focusing on sexual misconduct allegations against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh would premiere at the Sundance Film Festival, more tips started to roll in, according to the filmmakers.
Programmers of the indie film fest, held annually in Park City, Utah, revealed Thursday that the film “Justice” from director Doug Liman would screen on Friday evening. The film centers on accusations initially made against Kavanaugh in 2018, when he was nominated to the Supreme Court by President Donald Trump.
The film revealed additional details about accusations made against Kavanaugh. It covers incidents alleged by accusers including Christine Blasey Ford, who testified before Congress in 2018, and Deborah Ramirez, a former classmate of Kavanaugh’s at Yale.
The film also includes new details of allegations about a separate incident at Yale that involved a different woman who is not named and declined to be part of the film. Those allegations were provided to the FBI by another Yale alumnus, Max Stier, during its investigation of Kavanaugh — there were more than 4,500 tips provided to the FBI, according to the film, with the most credible tips being passed on to the White House.
The filmmakers acquired a recording of Stier sharing his recollection of the incident, which provides one of the documentary’s most gripping segments. “That material like that was just shielded and sent to the White House and never pursued, for me that was the most shocking” discovery of the film, Liman said during a Q&A after the screening.
Liman, who is best known for directing movies like “Swingers” and “The Bourne Identity,” answered questions about the film alongside Amy Herdy, his coproducer who led the film’s investigative team.
“I thought the film was done but it looks like… we’re not going home,” Liman said. “The team is staying on it.”
Asked what he originally hoped would result from the film — further investigations or other impacts — Liman said what happens after the film is “so beyond my control,” adding, “We live in a climate where, no matter what we put in this movie, it is likely that the people that support the status quo are going to keep supporting it, and I sort of came to the answer for myself: Maybe the truth matters. It matters now, it’ll matter in the future, and maybe that’s it.”
For Herdy, that’s not enough, she said. “I do hope that this triggers outrage, I do hope that this triggers action, I do hope that this triggers additional investigation with real subpoena powers.”
The filmmakers also said they kept the film a secret because they thought word getting out could jeopardize their work. Liman cited “the machinery that was put into place to prevent anyone from who would dare to speak up.” If word had leaked out, he added, “There would’ve been some kind of injunction. This film wouldn’t have been showing here.”
Herdy said that code names were even used for the subjects and that everyone who worked on the film or was interviewed by the filmmakers signed a non-disclosure agreement.
The filmmakers interviewed about 20 people, including friends of Blasey Ford from her current circle and from her teen years, friends of Ramirez, journalists, and psychologists who described the features and impact of traumatic memories. Blasey Ford speaks with Liman briefly in the opening of the film and there are extensive, emotional interviews with Ramirez.
Liman’s interest in making his first documentary arose, he said, in 2018 during the Congressional hearings ahead of Kavanaugh’s confirmation. He previously told the Hollywood Reporter that “the Supreme Court, which is sacred for all of us, holds special meaning for me.” His father, Arthur L. Liman, was a prominent lawyer and activist, and his brother, Lewis, once clerked for the Supreme Court and is now a federal judge in the Southern District of New York.
The film is seeking a distributor but, as Liman and Herdy noted Saturday, it may still be expanded as they continue to investigate the new tips they’ve received.