On the Basis of Sex
by director Mimi Leder
As a filmmaker, I hope to inspire a greater understanding of our shared humanity though the power of cinematic storytelling. The history of cinema was, and still mostly is, told from a male perspective. When I entered this profession, there were very few women behind the camera. We certainly still have a long way to go, but things are shifting, momentum is picking up and I find inspiration in the many powerful female storytellers paving their way to the forefront of culture.
On the Basis of Sex is an origin story, but Ruth Bader Ginsburg is not a superhero, she’s a woman. Like countless of generations of women before her and since, Justice Ginsburg has withstood the subtle sleights and overt discrimination of the culture around her. And she’s a woman who changed that culture. Before she was elected to the highest court in the land, she was a young lawyer, wife and mother. Just like so many of us, she started out as a student with a passion, and harnessed that passion into an inherent drive to implement critical change to make gender equality, by law, a reality in our country.
The film, at its core, is about how we rise, how smart people who believe in justice can prevail and how the qualities of hard work and determination continue to propel us forward. It’s about finding your power on a personal level—in a brilliant way, I think everyone can relate to that feeling of self-confidence and realization.
Justice Ginsburg and I share many commonalities. We are both Jewish women, mothers, both have longstanding marriages, and in our respective fields, we each have chipped away at the glass ceiling to make it easier for the next generation. We understand the challenges, struggles and most importantly, the tenacity it takes to break through in a male-dominated field, on different levels of course, and what it means to see that change come to life.
It has been a great privilege bringing this film to audiences. I adored working alongside Armie, Justin, Kathy, Cailee, Chris, my wonderful husband, Gary Werntz, and the incomparable Felicity Jones. Felicity is one of the most extraordinary actors of our time and truly embodied Justice Ginsburg, in her looks, in her intelligence and the way she carried herself throughout filming.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg has said that she did not go into law to become a champion for equal rights. She went into law because she thought she could do that job better than anyone else. Well, she was right. And it’s all of our good fortune that she became a champion.
On the Basis of Sex is about how change happens and it couldn’t be more relevant in this moment in our history. I hope this story inspires a new generation and helps them understand that one person can make a profound impact on an entire nation.