An intimate and inspiring  portrait of  Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), a champion of civil rights and the lone vote in opposition of the broad authorization of military force following the September 11th  attacks. 

US | 2020 | 83 minutes | color | DVD | English | Order No. W211280 |


BARBARA LEE: SPEAKING TRUTH TO POWER is an intimate and inspiring portrait of Representative Barbara Lee, a champion of civil rights and a steadfast voice for human rights, peace, and economic and racial justice in the U.S. Congress. In 2001, in the face of extreme backlash, she cast the lone vote in opposition to the broad authorization of military force following the September 11th attacks and issued a strident warning in the House of Representatives, “Let us now become the evil we deplore.” Decades later, she continued that clarion call, demanding that Congress stand up to President Trump when he escalated tensions with numerous foreign governments while seeding division within his own country.

This feature documentary reveals the many challenges faced by Barbara Lee early in her life, including raising two sons as a single mother on food stamps and surviving domestic violence, which have provided her with the compassion, motivation, and commitment to use her position as an elected representative to improve the lives of her constituents. With unique access to a sitting member of Congress, this film not only introduces audiences to Barbara Lee, but to many others such as Senator Cory Booker, Representative John Lewis, Representation Ayanna Pressley, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, CNN commentator Van Jones, actor Danny Glover, and author Alice Walker, who all share insights about what makes Barbara Lee unique as a public servant and as a truth-telling Black woman in America. Uncompromising and conscientious to the core, Barbara Lee paves a path of integrity for future politicians.


"A compelling and inspiring profile of a Bay Area political powerhouse."

San Francisco International Film Festival

"A timely portrait of a congresswoman who has been a true pioneer on behalf of racial and economic justice."


"Inspiring…energizes you not to just look for the helpers but to become one yourself."

Association for Women Film Journalists

"A refreshing look at a legislator who fights for what she believes in, not what is politically convenient."

MV Times

"The film shows what as kept Rep. Lee from being corrupted by the lure of power in Washington D.C. has been her continual striving to help people first."


“The film offers viewers of all ages a closer look at a truly inspiring civil servant — the very definition of a positive role model — and what it took for her to become who she is today."

Common Sense Media

"Inspiring…energizes you not to just look for the helpers but to become one yourself."

Association for Women Film Journalists

"An engaging and inspiring documentary that provides insiht into the politician, the person, and the role model"

San Francisco Gate

"A portrait of a woman true to herself as she fights systemic injustice."

Cambridge Day

"Ginzberg nicely captures Lee’s down-to-earth spirit, and the congresswoman’s special relationship with her constituents."

San Francisco Chronicle

"Illuminates the life of Barbara Lee...this film is sure to cement her legacy and advance the work she continues to do for the Black community in the political sphere."

Pop Dust


  • Winner, Outstanding Documentary, 53rd NAACP Image Awards
  • Audience Award Runner Up, DOC NYC
  • Best Documentary, American Film Festival Poland
  • Best Director Award, Harlem International Film Festival 2021
  • Nominee, Best Documentary, British Urban Film Festival
  • Best Film, Black International Cinema Berlin
  • San Francisco International Film Festival 2020
  • DOC NYC 2020
  • Jewish Film Institute’s Cinegogue Summer Days
  • Woodstock Film Festival 2020
  • Sidewalk Film Festival 2020
  • Pan African Film Festival 2021
  • Martha Vineyard African American Film Festival 2021
  • Sonoma International Film Festival 2021
  • Cleveland International Film Festival 2021
  • Women + Film Festival 2021
  • United Nations Association Film Festival 2021


Abby Ginzberg

Peabody award-winning filmmaker Abby Ginzberg has been producing compelling documentaries about race and social justice for over 30 years. In addition to directing BARBARA LEE: SPEAKING TRUTH TO POWER, she recently released WAGING CHANGE, a documentary about the challenges faced by tipped restaurant workers, which premiered at DOC NYC in 2019. She is also the director of AND THEN THEY CAME FOR US (2017), a film about the connection between the incarceration of Japanese Americans during WW II and the Muslim travel ban. The film won a Silver Gavel was broadcast on public television in 2019. Ginzberg co-produced and co-directed AGENTS OF CHANGE (2016; with Frank Dawson), which premiered at the Pan African Film Festival where it won the Jury and the Audience Awards for Best Feature Documentary. It was broadcast on America Reframed in 2018 and 2019. SOFT VENGEANCE: ALBIE SACHS AND THE NEW SOUTH AFRICA won a 2015 Peabody award and has screened at film festivals around the world, winning four audience awards. It was broadcast on public television in 2016. Ginzberg was also the Consulting Producer on THE BARBER OF BIRMINGHAM, which premiered at Sundance in 2011 and was nominated for an Oscar® in the Short Doc category in 2012 and was directed by Robin Fryday and Gail Dolgin. (06/21) 


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