Monday, July 23, 2018

RBG packs the house

Posted By on Mon, Jul 23, 2018 at 9:05 AM

click to enlarge RACHEL BERNSTEIN
  • Rachel Bernstein

Men and women, young and old piled into the Millibo Art Theatre (MAT!) in Colorado Springs on July 11, 12, and 16 to view the twice sold-out documentary RBG about the life and career of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, otherwise known as “The Notorious RBG.”

The three-day film screening was hosted by the Rocky Mountain Women’s Film Institute (RMWFI), a local Colorado Springs nonprofit committed to supporting women filmmakers and home to the longest running women's film festival in North America.

“Bringing this film to Colorado Springs and downtown was something our audience and the community wanted to see,” says Sarah Arnold, Marketing Director for the RMWFI.

The film was originally only supposed to screen on July 11 and 12, but tickets sold out in less than 48 hours.

“We always wanted to do two nights because we thought it would be enticing to our audience, and it sold-out within two days. So that’s when we added a third screening — and that sold out in four hours,” Arnold explains.
click to enlarge RACHEL BERNSTEIN
  • Rachel Bernstein
Written and directed by Betsy West and Julie Cohen, RBG provides an intimate look into the personal and professional life of Ginsburg, focusing heavily on her decades-long work on achieving gender equality.

In a class of about 500 men at Harvard Law School, Ginsburg’s experience as one of nine women did not get easier as time passed — even after becoming the first woman to make two major Law Reviews; Harvard and Columbia. Graduating Columbia Law School, Ginsburg found it difficult to find work because of her gender, despite graduating at the top of her class. Her struggle resulted in dedicating her career to breaking legal ground for women and educating those above her about how gender inequality hurts both men and women.

“I’m grateful to Ruth because what she’s done for women also allows me to be a good man — a better man,” Tim Davis, age 70, explains when asked his opinion on the film. “It brings awareness to how far we’ve come, and part of it’s just in consciousness, to have a better world for our daughters—we’re still not there though, and we’re going backwards right now.”

The film speaks to multiple generations—from those who lived through Ginsburg’s most influential cases, including United States v. Virginia, Olmstead v. L.C., and Friends of the Earth, Inc. v. Laidlaw Environmental Services, Inc.—to millennials who, in the last few years, helped shape Ginsburg into a pop culture icon. Fans were so excited to see the film, some showed up sporting their “Notorious RBG” T-shirts — some of which had Justice Ginsburg wearing a crown. But overall, residents were thrilled that the film was brought to screen in the area at all. Following the national release in May, RBG showed for about two weeks at only one theatre in the Colorado Springs area.


Along with residents wanting to see the film, the screening couldn’t have come at a more relevant time in national politics, only a few weeks following the announcement of Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy’s retirement, effective July 31.

Known for helping to keep the court balanced, Justice Kennedy, 81, has been a pivotal swing vote for both liberals and conservatives for nearly three decades. Kennedy has helped cast the deciding vote in multiple pivotal rulings, including Obergefell v. Hodges, the 5-4 decision that paved the way for same-sex couples to marry.

When asked about the conservative shift that’s about to take place on the court, Davis says, “I’m always hopeful that people will be able to, as Ruth did, put these things aside and judge a case on its merit. But it’s scary to me because we’ve come so far in terms of civil rights and rights for women which affect everybody, to go in the other direction would be very sad.”

As Kennedy steps down, the future of the Supreme Court is now in the hands of President Trump who has the power to put a conservative seal on the American legal system and impact American life for generations.

Another cause for concern is Ginsburg’s age. At 85, she is the oldest sitting justice on the high court. But Ginsburg’s age has only made her more relevant and influential as time has passed.

In addition to RBG, Justice Ginsburg will be back on the big screen in December, this time as the subject of the upcoming feature film, On the Basis of Sex, centered on Ginsburg navigating life as a young lawyer to bring the groundbreaking case, Weinberger v. Wiesenfeld, to the U.S. Court of Appeals.

Ginsburg makes it clear in RBG and in recent interviews that she has no intention of retiring and will stay on the Supreme Court bench as long as she can do the job to the best of her ability. As for now, she’s moving full steam ahead.

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