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The filmmakers behind a documentary about Clarence Thomas — which includes unprecedented access to the controversial Supreme Court justice — have struck a distribution deal whereby the movie will hit theaters just as the first Democratic primary voters head to the polls. Fortuitous timing, considering frontrunner Joe Biden plays an unwitting role.
In a clip obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, Biden, who was chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee during the 1991 confirmation hearings, is seen grilling Thomas about “natural law” before Thomas is seen weighing in on the experience via an interview for the movie.
“I have no idea what he was talking about,” says Thomas in the film, called Created Equal: Clarence Thomas in His Own Words. “One of the things you do in hearings, is you have to sit there and look attentively at people you know have no idea what they’re talking about.”
The film will be distributed by Manifold Productions and is scheduled for a Jan. 31 release, four days before the Iowa Caucuses. (Created Equal will open in theaters in California, Arizona, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Texas, Georgia and Washington D.C., among other states, but not in Iowa.)
Biden’s interactions during the confirmation hearings with of Thomas and Anita Hill, who accused the justice of sexual misconduct, are portrayed extensively in the movie, director-producer Michael Pack tells THR. “It is revealing. I’ll let viewers decide if it’s good or bad. It was a big moment for Biden. He got a lot of national attention.”
Pack, who runs Manifold and has made about 15 movies, many of which have aired on PBS, wouldn’t reveal the budget for the film, which was financed by foundations and several wealthy individuals he wouldn’t name.
Manifold is also set to release Thursday another trailer for the movie, this one targeting a faith-based audience. Thomas attended a seminary where he experienced racism, then embraced revolutionary leftism and rejected God before re-embracing Christianity.
“Losing and coming back to his faith is a big theme, and it’s something only Thomas could talk about,” says Pack, who culled from 30 hours of interviews with Thomas that he collected over six months.
Pack adds, “Justice Thomas was getting tired of being mischaracterized by his enemies. It’s a story that needed to be told, and I’m honored Justice Thomas trusted me.”
Jan. 22, 3:35 p.m. PT Updated to clarify distributor and amount of time Clarence Thomas spent in interviews.
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