Ruth Bader-Ginsburg: A woman who changed history – Opening night of Elles Tournent Festival

In coats and turtleneck sweaters the audience trickled in through both doors of Bozar’s Studio and walked down the carpeted steps craning their necks. The room was getting full. Men and women alike hurried to find a seat before the much-awaited screening began.


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On Thursday January 24th, the 11th edition of the Elles Tournent-Dames Draien Festival was inaugurated with a full house at Bozar in Brussels with the screening of: “On The Basis Of Sex”, a film by American director, Mimi Leder (Deep Impact, Pay It Forward), that portrays part of the life of Ruth Bader-Ginsburg, her early career and the struggles she had to go through to fight discrimination.


The film shows Bader-Ginsburg (Felicity Jones) as a young mother and undergrad living in Cambridge, Massachusetts, one of the first few women who were allowed to study at Harvard Law School. The condescending attitude from the dean and several classmates is ever-present but Bader-Ginsburg is determined to get past them. Her husband, Marty (Army Hammer), is supportive and wants to see her succeed as a lawyer. But while still in college tragedy strikes and both have to find a way to keep their family afloat.

The audience will get a chance to see the Cambridge and New York of the late 50’s and early 70’s, urban views of graffitied walls and telephone booths, typewriters and bell-bottomed pants, as well as the hairstyles and colorful clothes of the period.


Leder’s portrayal of the “natural order of things” at that point in time the US is apposite. Women were meant to stay at home; men couldn’t take care of their elderly parents. The story’s core is the dramatization of the quest that took long, more than ten years, but that was never abandoned: Bader-Ginsburg made history. She challenged the status quo and managed to get rid of laws that discriminated based on gender. She was appointed to the US Supreme Court in 1996.

“We are very happy to see so many people here tonight,” said the Festival’s organizers. “We received hundreds of film submissions. It was not easy to select the films that you see in the program. And that goes to show to those who dare to say, ‘We don’t show films made by women because there are so few of them.’”

Elles Tournent-Dames Draaien goes on until January 27th.