- A new documentary about allegations of misconduct against Judge Brett Kavanaugh premiered on Friday.
- The film was a last-minute Sundance addition and was kept under wraps until Thursday.
- Filmmakers said they began receiving new leads about Kavanaugh shortly 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 hints began to surface, according to the filmmakers.
Programmers at the annual independent film festival in Park City, Utah, revealed on Thursday that director Doug Liman’s “Justice” would screen on Friday night. The film centers on the allegations first leveled against Kavanaugh in 2018 when he was appointed to the Supreme Court by President Donald Trump.
The film revealed additional details about the allegations made against Kavanaugh. It covers incidents alleged by accusers, including Christine Blasey Ford, who testified before Congress in 2018, and Deborah Ramirez, Kavanaugh’s former Yale classmate.
The film also includes new details of allegations about a separate incident at Yale that involved a different woman who was not named and refused to be a part of the film. These allegations were provided to the FBI by another Yale alumnus, Max Stier, during the Kavanaugh investigation – there were over 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 recollections of the incident, which provides one of the most moving segments in the documentary. “That material like that was only protected and sent to the White House and never pursued, to me that was the most shocking discovery of the film,” Liman said during a post-screening Q&A.
Liman, who is best known for directing films such as “Swingers” and “The Bourne Identity,” answered questions about the film alongside Amy Herdy, his co-producer who led the film’s investigative team.
“I thought the movie was done, but it looks like we’re not going home,” Liman said. “The team is holding on to that.”
Asked what he originally hoped would come out of the film – more 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, people who support the status quo are likely to continue to support it, and I’ve sort of come to the answer for myself: maybe the truth matters. It matters now, it will matter in the future, and maybe this is it.”
For Herdy, that’s not enough, she said. “I hope this sparks outrage, I hope this sparks action, I hope it sparks a further investigation with real subpoena powers.”
The filmmakers also said that they kept the film a secret because they felt that its release could harm their work. Liman cited “the mechanism that was put in place to stop anyone who dared to speak”. Had the news leaked, he added, “There would have been some sort of injunction. This film would not have been shown here.”
Herdy said that even code names were used for the subjects and that everyone who worked on the film or was interviewed by the filmmakers signed a confidentiality agreement.
The filmmakers interviewed about 20 people, including friends of Blasey Ford from his current circle and from his teenage years, friends of Ramirez, journalists and psychologists who described the characteristics and impact of traumatic memories. Blasey Ford speaks briefly with Liman in the film’s opening and there are extensive and moving interviews with Ramirez.
Liman’s interest in making his first documentary came, he said, in 2018 during congressional hearings leading up to Kavanaugh’s confirmation. He previously told the Hollywood Reporter that “the Supreme Court, which is sacred to all of us, has special meaning to me.” His father, Arthur L. Liman, was a prominent lawyer and activist, and his brother, Lewis, was a former Supreme Court official and is now a federal judge for the Southern District of New York.
The movie is looking for a distributor, but as Liman and Herdy noted on Saturday, it could still be expanded as they continue to investigate the new leads they’ve received.