News & Politics

Here’s the Trailer for the New Ruth Bader Ginsburg Documentary

"RBG," a new film about the Supreme Court Justice's life, opens May 4.

Over the past half-decade, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has transcended her daily role as anchor of the Supreme Court’s liberal wing to legitimate pop-culture icon. So it’s only fitting that she’s now the subject of an energetic, critically lauded documentary about her life and career titled—what else?—RBG. Magnolia Pictures released the first trailer for RBG on Wednesday, ahead of the film’s theatrical release.

The two-and-a-half-minute clip opens with the a voiceover from the 84-year-old jurist reading a quote from the 19th-century feminist and abolitionist Sarah Moore Grimké: “I ask no favor for my sex. All I ask of our brethren is that they take their feet off our necks.” Then comes the brassy opening flare of the Minneapolis rapper Dessa‘s 2012 song “The Bullpen,” the lyrics to which seem particularly appropriate for a movie about Ginsburg. (“Forget the bull in the china shop, there’s a china doll in the bullpen…”)

From there, the trailer jumps around archival and new footage of Ginsburg, including her famously grueling workouts and her appearances performing with the Washington National Opera. Other people interviewed for the film include NPR Supreme Court reporter Nina Totenberg, equal-pay activist Lilly Ledbetter, writer and activist Gloria Steinem, and Shana Knizhnik and Irin Carmon, whose 2015 graphic biography of Ginsburg, Notorious RBG, is as responsible as anything for Ginsburg’s current level of fame.

The film, directed by Betsy West and Julie Cohen, made its debut in January at the Sundance Film Festival, where it was received well by critics. Even though it appears to take a fairly straightforward tour of Ginsburg’s life, RBG stirred up its audiences. “It’s a fist-pumping, crowd-pleasing documentary that makes one heck of a play to remind people of Ginsburg’s vitality and importance, now more than ever,” IndieWire wrote.

RBG opens in theaters May 4.

Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.