Wednesday 20 February 2019

Directors of Oscar-nominated RBG hope the documentary ‘energises’ viewers

Julie Cohen said Ruth Bader Ginsburg ‘is a titan of the feminist movement’.

RBG directors Betsy West (left) and Julie Cohen have discussed the film’s success (Magnolia Pictures/CNN/PA)
RBG directors Betsy West (left) and Julie Cohen have discussed the film’s success (Magnolia Pictures/CNN/PA)

By Keiran Southern, Press Association Los Angeles Correspondent

The directors of Oscar-nominated documentary RBG hope the film will “energise” viewers.

The film focuses on the life and career of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the second female to be confirmed to the US Supreme Court and a pivotal figure in American feminism over the last five decades.

Known among fans as the Notorious RBG, a play on the rapper’s name Notorious BIG, 85-year-old Justice Ginsburg has amassed a cult following among young, liberal Americans and has been referred to as a “pop culture icon” in the States.

RBG, which on Tuesday picked up two Oscar nominations to add to its Bafta nod from earlier this month, was directed and produced by Betsy West and Julie Cohen.

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Supreme Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a revered figure in the United States (Magnolia Pictures/CNN Films/PA)

Cohen said she hopes viewers will be inspired by the film while remembering Justice Ginsburg’s belief in civility in political life.

She told the Press Association: “There are two things we are hoping our viewers will take away. On the one hand we do want to energise and inspire those who want to continue the fight for equal justice, for women, for African Americans, for Latinos, for LGBTQ, and for those whose rights have been suppressed.

“On the other hand, Justice Ginsburg also stands for collegiality and civility with her colleagues whose ideological viewpoints are different.

“So we want people coming out the theatre both energised to keep up the fight but remembering to do it in such a way that there’s good will across the political spectrum.”

Justice Ginsburg was born in Brooklyn, New York, to Jewish parents. She was one of a few women on her course at Harvard Law School before transferring to Columbia, where she graduated first in her class.

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Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s life and career is the focus of an Oscar-nominated documentary (Magnolia Pictures/CNN Films/PA)

She spent large parts of her career advocating gender equality and was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1993 by President Bill Clinton.

Justice Ginsburg’s recent battles with ill health sparked panic among liberal-minded Americans, who fear President Donald Trump being allowed to tilt the political balance of the Supreme Court with another lifelong appointment to the court.

West said amid the turbulent political landscape in the US, the subject of the film becomes “more and more relevant as the months go by”.

She added that Justice Ginsburg’s place in history as a pivotal figure in feminism was secure before she joined the Supreme Court.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg absolutely will go down as a titan of the feminist movement Julie Cohen

West said: “At the time that she was arguing it, it’s almost hard to believe now, but the idea that men and women should be treated equally under the law back in the 1970s, was a radical idea.

“And when you ask whether or not she’s had a lasting impact, I would argue that she has. Because that idea is no longer radical in our country, it is accepted, that men and women should be treated equally.”

Cohen added: “Ruth Bader Ginsburg absolutely will go down as a titan of the feminist movement.”

As well as the documentary on her life, Justice Ginsburg was also the focus of a biographical drama.

British actress Felicity Jones stars as the judge in On The Basis Of Sex, due to be released in the UK in February.

RBG is nominated for best documentary at the Oscars and Baftas as well as for best original song at the Academy Awards for Diane Warren’s I’ll Fight.

It is out now in UK cinemas.

Press Association

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