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When Julie Cohen set out to make RBG — which chronicles the life and career of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg — the justice “hadn’t even agreed to an interview,” the director told The Hollywood Reporter‘s Documentary Roundtable.
“Ultimately, she started to participate in it,” said Cohen. “Several months into filming, her assistant actually sent us a list saying, ‘Here’s 12 things the justice is going to be doing over the next year that she thought might make interesting filming opportunities.'”
Cohen and directing partner Betsy West “wanted to take a pretty deep look into [Ginsburg’s] career,” including the “intense sexism and discrimination” that she endured and “how that connected with what she’d done.”
Interviewing the justice and following her to the gym are points that Cohen notes as highlights from the production, but it was showing the doc to Ginsburg herself that was the most thrilling of all.
“Obviously showing Ruth Bader Ginsburg the film that we had made about her life was incredibly nerve-wracking,” said the filmmaker. “Her first time seeing it was at the world premiere at Sundance. We did not want to show it to her in advance because we didn’t want the public information apparatus of the court involved in trying to make any changes.
“And actually,” Cohen continued, “she never asked to see it. She just said, ‘Sure, I’ll fly out to Park City.’ It was the most nerve-wracking 97 minutes of our lives.”
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