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

On Thursday’s opening night, Sundance lobbed a bomb into the meticulously planned schedule of festival goers. The following night, they announced, the festival will host the world’s premiere JusticeDoug Liman’s document on Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation hearing.

Like last year Navaliwhich has been reduced to a document competition with 24 hours notice, the sudden appearance of Justice Gives the film a sense of urgency and mystery. What kind of bombshell revelation could this movie contain that would necessitate keeping it under wraps until the last minute?

After standing in the crowded tent for an hour and making my way into the screening Filled with necessity, I can answer that question: not much. The consensus across the board is that JusticeAt least in this 85-minute “festive cut”, there are no bombs. A call to the FBI tipline from Kavanaugh’s former Yale classmate Max Stier gets a cloak-and-dagger treatment, with hidden cameras and digitally falsified voices leading us to a handheld recorder showing Stier’s words that he heard others at the school say. Kavanaugh sexually assaulted classmate Deborah Ramirez, who accused Kavanaugh of drunkenly touching her genitals in front of several witnesses. (Kavanaugh has denied all allegations, and he and Stier declined to speak to the filmmakers.) But Stier’s suggestion and Ramirez’s allegations were widely reported in 2019, and just hearing his actual call for the first time doesn’t amount to anything close to a smoking gun.

Then again, is this the standard by which a documentary like this should be judged—the standard by which most nonfiction films fall short? Not even the film director agreed. After the selection, Liman, the The Bourne Identity The director who made his documentary debut Justice, which he also financed himself, admitted that “we live in a climate where it doesn’t matter what we put in this film.” (Liman’s father, Arthur Liman, was chief counsel for the Iran-Contra investigation when the filmmaker was in his 20s, so he’s no stranger to congressional investigations.) Those who believe Kavanaugh’s recusal — or at least consider the assault calls made by Ramirez, Christine Blasey Ford, and many others less important than securing his nomination to the Supreme Court — will not be motivated by Justice Even in the unlikely event that they find themselves watching it, and who believes his accuser needs no further confirmation. “I came to the answer for myself that maybe the truth is important,” Liman continued. “In a hundred years, this movie will exist, and maybe that’s it.”

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But Amy Herdy, an investigative journalist who leads the film’s research team, and has worked as a researcher on many films about sexual abuse, including. Hunting area, On the recordAnd Allen v. Farrow, immediately the problem with the philosophical bent Liman. “Yeah, I’m not happy with that, with all due respect, Doug,” she said. “I hope this causes anger. I hope this causes action. I hope that this will lead to further investigation with the authority of the real order. ” One reason for the film’s short length is the decision to leave out any Kavanaugh accusers whose allegations could not be substantiated, and because of Ford, who appears on the edge of the frame in the opening shot while Liman tries to convince her to be a part. Dee, clearly decided not to participate. (Of course, her irrevocable Senate testimony is included.) But Herdy said that within half an hour of the film’s existence being announced to the world, new suggestions came in. Justicewebsite, and they may end up being part of the final version.

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Justice Give 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 a trauma specialist to explain why her memories of the attack could contain vivid details in part. example and not clear in others. One of the worst points of the film is that the Republican counsel Rachel Mitchell, who argued about minor violations and inconsistencies in the testimony of Blasey Ford in an attempt to undermine her credibility as a witness, has worked enough sexual assault cases as a prosecutor to truly understand how painful it is. Memory works, and deliberately uses that experience to attack Blasey Ford instead. (At one point, she grilled Blasey Ford about whether she was talking downstairs in the room where Kavanaugh accused her, or whether she just knew people were talking.) And while Blasey Ford himself didn’t appear, many people did. Her childhood friend, who also grew up with Kavanaugh, went in front of the camera and made it clear that at least Kavanaugh had lied under oath to Congress about the extent and excesses of his high school and college drinking – an act that should stand in itself. to be disqualified in the application to the Supreme Court of the country.

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This question is very important depending on where you set the bar. According to this version of Justice, the film has little chance of persuading the FBI to reopen the investigation, let alone what could affect Kavanaugh’s place in court. But it’s an almost impossible goal to expect a movie to succeed where the entire Democratic Party apparatus has failed. What it might do, especially in an expanded and stronger version, is to ensure that Kavanaugh never escapes from what Ramirez and Blasey Ford say he did, that every decision he makes and the public will be seen through the lens of the person they say he is. That may not matter in a hundred years, but it may matter Now.


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