When I spoke with renowned filmmaker Rob Reiner (A FEW GOOD MEN, THIS IS SPINAL TAP, WHEN HARRY MET SALLY) on June 20. 2014, it was the morning after his film, THE CASE AGAINST 8 had kicked off the 38th annual Frameline Festival in San Francisco. The film, which Reiner co-produced with his wife, Michelle, had already won the directing award at Sundance, and was scheduled to make its HBO debut the following Sunday. Reiner is a man with a long history of political activism, including the fight to repeal Proposition 8, but, as a I learned in the course of our talk, this project taught him somethng new about who would, and wouldn’t support the judicial battle to repeal California’s proposition outlawing same-sex marriage. Low key, but passionate about his core beliefs, Reiner discussed the start of his involvement with the issue, both politically and cinematically, how politics became a side issue when Ted Olsen came on board as co-lead counsel with David Boies, his opponent in Bush v. Gore, and how this case is still affecting judicial rulings around the country.
THE CASE AGAINST 8 is his HBO documentary detailing the historic judicial battle waged to repeal California’s Proposition 8 outlawing same-sex marriage. Following the proceedings from finding plaintiffs willing to go through the ordeal, all the way to the final Supreme Court ruling, the film is a visceral experience of what it means to do the right thing when it comes to ensuring that everybody has the human and civil rights guaranteed to them under our Constitution. It’s also a fascinating study of the relationship between the lead attorneys, Ted Olsen and David Boies, who had argued against one another in the Supreme Court in the momentous 2000 Bush v. Gore ruling. The film is viscerally immediate in its execution, and, even if you know how the ruling with go, nail-bitingly suspenseful. Plaintiffs Kris Perry and Sandy Spier, and Jeff Zarrillo and Paul Katami unselfishly allowed incredible access to the filmmakers as they went through the legal and media circus surrounding the case, and as we get to know them, we also get to understand the exact nature of the stakes involved. The film was directed by Ben Cotner and Ryan White. It won the Documentary Directing Award at Sundance. Reiner and his wife, Michelle, served as producers on the film, and did more than just write a check to make it possible. Reiner’s previous work includes the iconic role of Michael Stivic on television’s groundbreaking ALL IN THE FAMILY, and more recently, playing Leonardo DiCaprio’s father in THE WOLF OF WALL STREET. As a director, his credits include THE PRINCESS BRIDE, THIS IS SPINAL TAP, MISERY and STAND BY ME, among many others. He is the co-founder of Castle Rock Entertainment, and a co-founder of the American Foundation for Equal Rights