Sundance’s Brett Kavanaugh documentary doesn’t drop bombs but does something just as important.

On opening night Thursday, Sundance threw a grenade into festival-goers’ carefully planned schedules. They announced the following night, that the festival would host the world premiere of justiceDoug Lyman’s documentary about the Supreme Court hearings for Brett Kavanaugh.

As last year Navalnywhich was dropped from the Documentary Competition with 24 hours notice, due to the sudden appearance of justice It gave the film a sense of urgency and mystery. What kind of explosive revelation could this movie contain that would warrant being kept under wraps until the last minute?

After standing in a crowded tent for an hour and making my way to the crowded screen, I can answer this question with: Not much. comprehensive consensus Is that justice, at least in the 85-minute “Festival Cut,” is bomb-free. A call to the FBI information line from Kavanaugh’s former Yale classmate Max Stier getting the cloak-and-dagger treatment, with a hidden camera and digitally disguised audio leads us to a handheld recorder playing Stier’s statement that he overheard others at the school talking about Kavanaugh’s sexual assault of classmate Deborah Ramirez, which alleges Kavanaugh drunkenly stuck his penis into her face in front of multiple witnesses. (Kavanaugh denied all allegations, and he and Steer refused to speak to the filmmakers.) But Steir’s insinuation and Ramirez’s allegations were It has been widely reported It’s 2019, and simply hearing his actual call for the first time doesn’t amount to anything close to having a smoking gun.

Then again, is this the standard by which a documentary like this should be judged — a standard by which the vast majority of issue-driven nonfiction films fall short? Not even the film’s directors agreed. After screening, Lyman, W Bourne identity The director who made his documentary debut with justice, which he also self-financed, admitted that “we live in a climate where it doesn’t matter what we put in this movie.” (Lyman’s father, Arthur Lyman Senior advisor in the Iran-Contra investigation As the director was in his early 20s, so he was no stranger to congressional investigations.) Those who believed Kavanaugh’s denials — or at least considered the assault allegations made by Ramirez, Christine Blasey Ford, and many others. Less important than securing his nomination to the Supreme Court – he won’t be affected justice Even in the unlikely case they found themselves witnessing, and those who believed his accusers need no further confirmation. Lehmann continued, “I came up with an answer myself. Perhaps the truth is important.” “In a hundred years, this movie will exist, and maybe that’s it.”

But Amy Hurdy, the investigative journalist who led the research team for the film, and has worked as a researcher on several films about sexual assault, including hunting groundAnd On the recordAnd Allen v. Farrow, immediately objected to Lehmann’s philosophical bent. “Yeah, I’m not happy about that,” she said, “with all due respect, Doug.” “I hope this sparks outrage. I hope this leads to action. I hope this leads to additional investigation with real subpoena powers.” One reason for the short film’s length was the decision to exclude any Kavanaugh accusers whose claims were not confirmed, and because Ford, who appears on the edge of the frame in the opening shot as Liman tries to persuade her to be part of the film, apparently decided not to participate. (Her indelible Senate testimony was included, of course.) But Hurdy said that within a half hour of announcing the film’s existence to the world, new advice came through. justicewebsite ofand they may end up being part of the final version.

justice It gave Ramirez, who said in 2018 that she was willing to testify before Congress but was never called, a chance to speak at length, and for experts in trauma to explain why her memories of the assault can be so accurately detailed in some of her stories. Examples are ambiguous in other cases. One of the film’s most impressive points is that Republican attorney Rachel Mitchell, who pounced on minor lapses and inconsistencies in Blasey Ford’s testimony in an effort to undermine her credibility as a witness, has worked enough sexual assault cases as a plaintiff to understand the shocking extent. Memory works, and she intentionally used that experience to attack Blasey Ford instead. (At one point, Blasey questioned Ford about whether she actually had a conversation on the floor below the room where Kavanaugh allegedly groped her, or whether she just knew people were talking.) And while Blasey Ford herself doesn’t show up, many of her friends are. Her children, who also grew up with Kavanaugh, go on camera and make it clear that at least Kavanaugh lied under oath to Congress about the extent and excess of drunkenness in high school and college — an act in itself that should disqualify her to apply to the nation’s highest court.

Whether this matters depends in large part on where you set the bar. Based on this version of justiceThe movie doesn’t stand much chance of convincing the FBI to reopen its investigation, much less that the investigation reveals anything that might affect Kavanaugh’s place in court. But it’s nearly impossible to expect a single movie to succeed where the entire Democratic Party apparatus has failed. What it might do, especially in an expanded and augmented version, is help ensure Kavanaugh never gets away with what Ramirez and Blasey Ford said, and that all of his judgment and public statement is seen through the lens of the person they say he is. It might not matter in a hundred years, but it might right Now.

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