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‘RBG:’ Recounting the Life of the Rock Star Supreme Court Justice

"You know, someone ought to do a full-dress, serious documentary covering this extraordinary woman's life. And why not have it be us?"

“Filmmakers Betsy West and Julie Cohen wanted their documentary, RBG, to show the incredible amount of discrimination Ruth Bader Ginsburg has faced, but they wanted to show her triumphs too,” write Elyssa Dudley and Marialexa Kavanaugh.

“Justice Ginsburg is a stark figure in the gender equality movement who, intent on systematically releasing women from second-class status, argued six pivotal gender-bias cases in the 1970s before an all-male Supreme Court blind to sexism,” Amanda N’Duka explains. “Now 84, Ginsburg refuses to relinquish her passionate duty, steadily fighting for equal rights for all citizens under the law.

RBG tells the electric story of Ginsburg’s consuming love affairs with both the Constitution and her beloved husband Marty—and of a life’s work that led her to become an icon of justice in the highest court in the land.” To read the full article, click here.

“Betsy and I had each, individually, for separate projects, done interviews with her several years ago. We had followed her kind of stellar rise to rockstardom, as young women began to sort of idolize her as the Notorious RBG,” Cohen tells Amy Goodman

“And we just felt like, ‘You know, someone ought to do a full-dress, serious documentary covering this extraordinary woman’s life. And why not have it be us?’

“When you meet her in person, she’s a very tiny person,” West says. “And yet she has a kind of commanding presence. I think it’s the contrast about her that really strikes you. She’s a very serious person, the kind of person, if you say, “Hey, how are you?” she doesn’t immediately jump in to tell you how she is, she thinks about it. She’s very deliberate in everything she says.

“So, as she said to us in the interview, ‘I tend to be rather sober.’ On the other hand, she has a fabulous sense of humor. And as we discovered in the film, she loves to laugh. And so, she’s a very—she’s a multidimensional person, with an extraordinary life story.” To listen to the full interview, click here.

West tells John Horn, “Ruth Bader Ginsberg has become something of a rock star … to the millennial generation. So certainly we were using that as a way to get into the story and then present some of the legal battles that she fought earlier on. We also wanted to tell what turns out to be an extraordinarily moving love story.” To listen to the full interview, click here.

The team spent about a year and a half on the project, Selina Chignall reports. “They followed Ginsburg at various events, interviewing close family and friends, including famed feminist Gloria Steinem and former president Bill Clinton, and examined the impact of her rulings.

“A coproduction by Storyville Films and CNN Films, RBG uses vérité scenes, archival news footage documenting Ginsberg’s career, family photographs and exclusive home movies to paint a portrait of a woman committed to furthering gender equality and safeguarding democratic institutions.

“She is unbelievably busy with her job as a justice and, on top of that, the amount of traveling she does to give talks in various law schools, bar associations, opera lovers groups etc.,” Cohen tells Chignall.

“She has an unbelievable schedule, so sandwiching the additional imposition of us filming in places was a challenge. Fortunately, she allowed us to be in a lot of places where she was.” To read the full article, click here.  

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