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‘Confirmation’ Director Rick Famuyiwa Talks the Challenges of Depicting Recent History

Rick Famuyiwa’s HBO film Confirmation is about Clarence Thomas’s 1991 confirmation as a Supreme Court Justice and the sexual harrassment allegations brought against him by Anita Hill. 

“Most of these people are still around and still vibrant and one of them is a sitting vice president and one of them is a Supreme Court Justice,” Famuyiwa tells Fast Company‘s Co.Create about the challenges of making a film about recent history. “At the end of the day, it is a film and we had to do what we had to do to take an event that took place over several days and weeks and compress it into an hour and 40 minute film. The main challenges just had to do with balancing your instincts to tell a story with characters a certain way vs the historical record. So often there’d be moments where obviously if I was just writing this is a fiction, I’d say, ‘Now it’s time for a scene where this happens or now a character does this or that,’ and obviously that was the challenge of this is that you can’t create those moments. So you sort of have to find the moments around the hearings and around the testimony, find character beats, but not get too far into your imagination that you’re not staying true to who these people are. But you definitely think about it and you understand that because it’s our recent history, that makes it more challenging than making a film about people who are not around to comment on it any more.”