Reproductive Rights Film Fest This Weekend: Restricting Abortion In America

Still from Trapped. Courtesy of Dawn Porter.

“There is a steady chipping away of the right to abortion in America,” said Brigitte Amiri of the ACLU, in the 2018 documentary, Reversing Roe. “Since 2010, 300 abortion restrictions have been passed in this country, and I think many people are unaware of how restricted abortion has become.”

On Friday, November 8 and Saturday, November 9, the Brooklyn Museum will present a two-day film festival and host discussions with pro-choice advocates and filmmakers. 

On opening night, directors of Reversing Roe, Ricki Stern and Anne Sundberg, will introduce their film and participate in conversation with Nancy Northup, President of the Center for Reproductive Rights and Senti Sojwal, reproductive justice organizer and marketing manager at Planned Parenthood of New York City.

“My hope is that the public can learn more about the seriousness of the attacks we face, especially for vulnerable populations,” Sojwal said. “In a year we have seen some of the most extreme attacks on abortion in U.S. history, grave threats to health care like Title X cuts and an onslaught of policies targeting immigrants and queer communities.”

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On Saturday, there will be four screenings with film introductions and a mid-day panel discussion with directors. 

Trapped, a 2016 film directed by Dawn Porter, focuses on the struggle of abortion clinics in the South after the passing of “TRAP” laws, or Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers. 

Still from Vessel (Diana Whitten, 2014, 90 min.) Courtesy of Diana Whitten.

Porter is also an external organizer for the film festival. “With the elevation of Brett Kavanaugh and the Administration of the current President—we see a return to the unimaginable—the idea that Roe could be either overturned or so severely limited that access to abortion in America is threatened,” Porter said. “I asked all these marvelous filmmakers if we could come together and offer our films which, taken together, paint a really comprehensive picture of the struggles over abortion. Every single filmmaker said ‘yes.’”

Participating filmmakers include Tracy Droz Tragos, whose 2016 documentary Abortion: Stories Women Tell, focuses on women in Missouri on different sides of the abortion debate. 

A Quiet Inquisition, a 2014 film co-directed by Alessandra Zeka and Holen Sabrina Kahn, tells the story of an OBGYN doctor who struggles with a Nicaragua law that bans abortions. Vessel, a 2014 film directed by Diana Whitten, focuses on the work of Dutch pro-choice activists who provide safe abortions at sea for women around the world who lack legal alternatives. 

The directors will introduce their documentaries and participate in a roundtable conversation with Andrea Miller, President of the National Institute for Reproductive Health.

The collection of films “aims to explore various facets of the fight for reproductive freedom today,” Sojwal said.

“We had the remarkable support of Cindi Leive, former editor of Glamour Magazine. She put us in touch with the Brooklyn Museum, our enthusiastic first partner,” Porter said. “So it all came together quickly—and I love the female energy at work to put this together.”

Catch Reproductive Rights Film Festival at the Brooklyn Museum:

Tickets $16 (includes Museum general admission)

Friday, November 8, 7 pm – 9:30 pm

Saturday, November 9, 11 am – 7 pm

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