Birth on the Border

This intimate and personal documentary follows two women from Ciudad Juárez as they cross the U.S.-Mexico border legally to give birth in Texas, putting their hearts and bodies on the line as they confront harassment at the hands of U.S. border officials. One million people legally cross the U.S.-Mexico border every day in both directions. Among them are women who cross for the purposes of childbirth. With the threat of obstetrical violence in Mexican hospitals and the desire for natural birth with midwives, Gaby and Luisa make the difficult decision to cross the border to El Paso, seeking a safer future for their children. Even with papers, their journeys are uncertain. Against the backdrop of oppressive U.S. border policy and growing debates over immigration, these women's stories of risk, strength, and resilience shed light on the realities and challenges of life on the border.
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62 Days

62 DAYS is an urgent examination of a growing trend of laws that seek to control a pregnant woman's body. It tells the story of a brain-dead pregnant woman whose family was forced to keep her on life support against their will. Marlise Muñoz was 33 years old and 14 weeks pregnant with her second child when she suffered a pulmonary embolism and was pronounced brain-dead in a hospital in Texas. Marlise had been clear about her end-of-life wishes: she did not want to be on mechanical support under any circumstances. But Marlise was kept alive because of a little-known law that states "a person may not withdraw or withhold life-sustaining treatment... from a pregnant patient." The film reveals that this is not an anomaly: there are currently 32 states (and counting) with similar or identical pregnancy exclusion policies. 62 DAYS follows the Muñoz family as they journey from private loss, to unwanted media attention, and finally towards activism as they fight to change this law. This timely short film powerfully addresses critical issues surrounding bodily integrity and women's health and needs to be seen by anyone studying or engaged in activism around reproductive rights.
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Birthright: A War Story

BIRTHRIGHT: A WAR STORY is the real-life "Handmaid’s Tale." This urgent documentary examines how women are being jailed, physically violated and even put at risk of dying as a radical movement tightens its grip across America. The film tells the story of women who have become collateral damage in the aggressive campaign to take control of reproductive health care and to allow states, courts and religious doctrine to govern whether, when and how women will bear children. BIRTHRIGHT: A WAR STORY explores the accelerating gains of the crusade to control pregnant women and the fallout that is creating a public health crisis, turning pregnant women into criminals and challenging the constitutional protections of every woman in America.
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Heather Booth: Changing the World

Renowned organizer and activist Heather Booth began her remarkable career at the height of the Civil Rights movement. Through her life and work, this inspiring film explores many of the pivotal moments in progressive movements that altered our history over the last fifty years, from her involvement with Fannie Lou Hamer and the Freedom Summer Project, to her founding of the JANE Underground in 1964, to her personal relationships with respected leaders such as Julian Bond and Senator Elizabeth Warren. Featuring interviews from close friends, clients, political colleagues and current Midwest Academy students, HEATHER BOOTH: CHANGING THE WORLD explores Heather’s legacy in progressive politics and organizing. At a time when many are wondering how to make their voices heard, when civil and women's rights are under attack, Lilly Rivlin’s acclaimed documentary is an empowering look at how social change happens.
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Footprint: Population, Consumption and Sustainability

FOOTPRINT takes a dizzying spin around the globe, witnessing population explosions, overconsumption, limited resources, and expert testimony as to what a world straining at its limits can sustain. We spend time with indigenous health workers, activists, and the ordinary people in the Philippines, Mexico, Pakistan and Kenya, women who all challenge the idea that our world can continue to support the weight of humanity’s footprint on it. FOOTPRINT offers unprecedented access to the people on the ground who are all in their unique way challenging the status quo and making us rethink what’s really at stake. There are surprising revelations on who are the players standing in the way of solutions and those pushing for it, without losing sight of the array of possible solutions that open up when we take the time to ask this critical question of how many of us there are in the world and what the Earth can sustain if we are to all live a dignified life.
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Beautiful Sin

BEAUTIFUL SIN tells a surprising reproductive rights story, one that resonates from Central America to the United States and beyond. What if you desperately wanted a baby, but your country and religion prohibited you from trying the one medical treatment that could help you? In 2000, anti-abortion activists, with the help of the Catholic Church and a U.S. group, won a legal case that banned in vitro fertilization (IVF) in Costa Rica and gave the embryo legal rights, making Costa Rica the only country in the world to outlaw the treatment. BEAUTIFUL SIN tells the decade-long story of three couples struggling with infertility who take the Costa Rican government before an international human rights court to demand the right to use IVF. Filmmaker Gabriela Quirós charts the emotional journey of these couples as they contend with infertility and explores the legal ramifications of reproductive rights. It’s a universal story about what happens when state power and religious ideology clash with the desire to have a child. Funding for this program was provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
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The Motherhood Archives

Archival montage, science fiction and an homage to 1970s feminist filmmaking are woven together to form this haunting and lyrical essay film excavating hidden histories of childbirth in the twentieth century. After several years of buying films online and working in historical archives, award-winning filmmaker Irene Lusztig amassed an unusual and fascinating collection of found footage aimed at teaching women how to be pregnant, give birth, and look after babies, along with training films for obstetricians and health care professionals, and a handful of home movies. Assembling her extraordinary trove from over 100 different sources, including newly rediscovered Soviet and French childbirth material tracing the evolution of Lamaze, THE MOTHERHOOD ARCHIVES inventively untangles the complex, sometimes surprising genealogies of maternal education. This extraordinary achievement illuminates our changing narratives of maternal success and failure while raising important questions about our social and historical constructions of motherhood.
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A Girl Like Her

From 1945-73, 1.5 million unmarried young American women, facing enormous social pressures, surrendered babies to adoption. Lacking sex education and easy access to birth control, they were forced into hiding while pregnant and then into “abandoning” their infants. In her latest film, Ann Fessler, Professor of Photography at Rhode Island School of Design, reprises the subject of her award-winning The Girls Who Went Away (National Book Critics Circle; Ballard Book Prize), which Ms. readers named an all-time best feminist book. Drawing on interviews with 100 women, Fessler lets them have their say and brings hidden history to light. We hear only their voices, which detail wrenching experiences against images from vintage newsreel and educational films reinforcing stereotypes of women’s roles following WWII. This gripping documentary will help today’s students grasp what life was like before the sexual and feminist revolutions had fully dawned.
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Water Children

In this acclaimed, hauntingly beautiful film, director Aliona van der Horst follows the unconventional Japanese-Dutch pianist Tomoko Mukaiyama as she explores the miracle of fertility and the cycle of life—sometimes joyful, sometimes tragic. When Mukaiyama recognized that her childbearing years were ending, she created a multimedia art project on the subject in a village in Japan, constructing what she calls a cathedral, out of 12,000 white silk dresses. While Mukaiyama’s own mesmerizing music provides a haunting backdrop to the film, her installation elicits confessions from its normally reticent Japanese visitors, many of whom have never seen art before—and in moving scenes they open up about previously taboo subjects. Mukaiyama’s courageous approach to a subject that remains unspoken in many cultures is explored with an elegance and sophistication that deepens our understanding of the relationship between body and mind.
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Made in India: A Film about Surrogacy

In San Antonio, Lisa and Brian Switzer risk their savings with a Medical Tourism company promising them an affordable solution after seven years of infertility. Halfway around the world in Mumbai, 27-year-old Aasia Khan, mother of three, contracts with a fertility clinic to be implanted with the Texas couple’s embryos. MADE IN INDIA, about real people involved in international surrogacy, follows the Switzers and Aasia through every stage of the process. With its dual focus, this emotionally charged, thoroughly absorbing film charts obstacles faced by the Switzers and presents intimate insights into Aasia’s circumstances and motivation. As their stories become increasingly intertwined, the bigger picture behind offshore outsourcing of pregnancies—a booming, unregulated reproductive industry valued at $450 million in India alone—begins to emerge. So do revealing questions about international surrogacy’s legal and ethical implications, global corporate practices, human and reproductive rights, and commodification of the body.
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Middle of Everywhere

South Dakota is America’s heartland—waving cornfields, hard-working farmers, family values and a population of 750,000, the majority of whom identify as conservative and anti-abortion. Native daughter Rebecca Lee returns home in 2006 on the brink of a historic state vote: House Bill 1215 could make South Dakota the first state to outlaw most abortions since Roe vs. Wade passed almost 30 years earlier. In The Middle of Everywhere, Lee discovers the debate to be complex, with both sides claiming compassion for women and the same desire to stop the need for abortion. When 1215 fails to pass, Lee sets out to uncover what would make a self-proclaimed pro-life state vote against the very measure that would end most legal abortions. South Dakotans appear conflicted in their beliefs: passing the Pharmacist Refusal Law, allowing pharmacists and doctors the right not to dispense birth control if doing so goes against their religious views, yet voting along pro-choice lines to keep abortion safe and legal. Was the vote a simple misunderstanding of what it means to be pro-choice? Was it a deeply-held resentment against government intrusion into people’s private lives? Whatever the final reason, The Middle of Everywhere reveals that the issue goes beyond the simple choices of being for or against abortion to the much deeper question of what values we hold dear as Americans and as humans beings.
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I Had an Abortion

Underneath the din of politicians posturing about "life" and "choice" and beyond the shouted slogans about murder and rights, there are real stories of real women who have had abortions. Each year in the US, 1.3 million abortions occur, but the topic is still so stigmatized it’s never discussed in polite company. Powerful, poignant, and fiercely honest, I HAD AN ABORTION tackles this taboo, featuring 10 women – including famed feminist Gloria Steinem – who candidly describe experiences spanning seven decades, from the years before Roe v. Wade to the present day. Filmmakers Jennifer Baumgardner (author of Manifesta: Young Women, Feminism, and the Future) and Gillian Aldrich insightfully document how changing societal pressures have affected women’s choices and experiences. Cutting across age, race, class and religion, the film unfolds personal narratives with intimate interviews, archival footage, family photos and home movies. Arranged chronologically, the stories begin with Florence Rice, now 86, telling without regret about her abortion in the 1930s. Other women speaking out include Marion Banzhaf, who, inspired by both the Miss America protests and the Stonewall rebellion, fundraised on her campus to pay for her abortion, and Robin Ringleka-Kottke, who found herself pregnant as an 18-year-old pro-life Catholic. With heartfelt stories that are never sentimentalized, I HAD AN ABORTION personalizes what has become a vicious and abstract debate.
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Rachel's Daughters

From the makers of the Oscar-winning IN THE SHADOWS OF THE STARS, this fascinating documentary follows a group of women - all breast cancer activists who are fighting or have survived the disease - who are on a personal mission to unearth the causes of breast cancer. The result is RACHEL'S DAUGHTERS, an engaging detective story and detailed analysis of the science and politics of this epidemic. Seeing themselves as spiritual heirs of author Rachel Carson, whose 1962 book SILENT SPRING warned of the dangers of DDT exposure, they focus on issues including chemical contamination, radiation, and electromagnetic exposure to find breast cancer's causes. Addressing environmental racism, inequalities in research funding, and disparities in cancer rates for women of color, they track the effects of social biases on cancer incidence and health care delivery. Incorporating interviews with prominent scientists, documentary footage from high cancer rate areas, and the investigating womens' personal battles to stay healthy, RACHEL'S DAUGHTERS offers a scientifically rigorous and intensely affecting view of this growing epidemic. An unprecedented warning of the dangers of industrialization; it is an inspiring rallying cry for those working to change current views about women's health.
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Girls Like Us

An ethnically diverse group of four working class girls strut, flirt, and testify in this vibrant, affecting portrait of teenage girls' experiences of sexuality. Filmed in South Philadelphia and following its subjects from the ages of 14 to 18, GIRLS LIKE US reveals the conflicts of growing up female by examining the impact of class, sexism, and violence on the dreams and expectations of young girls. Intimate interviews and candid footage introduce Anna, whose need for freedom in a new culture conflicts with her parents' strictness; De'Yona, who dreams of a singing career while coping with family tragedy; Raelene, who confronts violence and issues of self-esteem as a teenage mother; and Lisa, who faces the differences between the feminine roles of her Catholic upbringing and her own wishes. In documenting the friendships, challenges, and triumphs of these four young women, acclaimed filmmakers Jane C. Wagner and Tina DiFeliciantonio have created something truly rare: a searingly honest, inspiring depiction of girls' experiences that provokes reaction from and dialogue between educators, parents, and young women alike. GIRLS LIKE US was funded by the Independent Television Service (ITVS) with funds provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
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Choice Thoughts

In a witty mix of rare archival footage and sound bites from religious and political leaders, filmmaker Jacqueline Frank takes a fast-paced look at 100 years of the fight for birth control and legalized abortion. Featuring a concise overview of the work of Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger, CHOICE THOUGHTS illuminates how access to birth control became seen as a human right and how this dialogue continues around present day issues of choice. Discussion Guide available.
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Jane: An Abortion Service

This fascinating political look at a little-known chapter in women's history tells the story of "Jane", the Chicago-based women's health group who performed nearly 12,000 safe illegal abortions between 1969 and 1973 with no formal medical training. As Jane members describe finding feminism and clients describe finding Jane, archival footage and recreations mingle to depict how the repression of the early sixties and social movements of the late sixties influenced this unique group. Both vital knowledge and meditation on the process of empowerment, Jane: An Abortion Service showcases the importance of preserving women's knowledge in the face of revisionist history. JANE: AN ABORTION SERVICE was funded by the Independent Television Service (ITVS) with funds provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
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A Healthy Baby Girl

In 1963 filmmaker Judith Helfand's mother was prescribed the ineffective, carcinogenic synthetic hormone diethylstilbestrol (DES), meant to prevent miscarriage and ensure a healthy baby. At twenty-five, Judith was diagnosed with DES-related cervical cancer. After a radical hysterectomy she went to her family's home to heal and picked up her camera. The resulting video-diary is a fascinating exploration of how science, marketing and corporate power can affect our deepest relationships. Shot over five years, A HEALTHY BABY GIRL tells a story of survival, mother-daughter love, family renewal, and community activism. Intimate, humorous, and searing, it is an invaluable resource for anyone interested in the relationship between women's health, public policy, medical ethics and corporate responsibility. A HEALTHY BABY GIRL was funded by the Independent Television Service (ITVS) with funds provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
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Women's Lives and Choices

This important and timely series deals with women's health and the social, cultural and economic factors underlying reproductive choices. VENTRE LIVRE (Ana Luiza Azevedo) paints a grim picture of life for women in Brazil where sterilization and abortion are often the only forms of birth control available. RISHTE (Manjira Datta) explores the practice of male sex preference in India and its ramifications for women. THE DESIRED NUMBER (by the award-winning director of THE BODY BEAUTIFUL Ngozi Onwurah) uses the Ibu Eze ceremony in Nigeria to highlight how family planning issues often conflict with traditional family values. The series was produced by Daniel Riesenfeld for the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
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Ventre Livre

VENTRE LIVRE paints a grim picture of reproductive rights for millions of women in Brazil today. One in every four women of child-bearing age has been sterilized — often in her teens. And, with no access to other forms of contraception, over two million women resort to illegal abortions every year — leading to an estimated 50,000 deaths. VENTE LIVRE intercuts moving interviews with a range of different women describing their own experiences with statistics on the poor state of healthcare for women.
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The Desired Number

THE DESIRED NUMBER uses the Ibu Eze ceremony in Nigeria to highlight how family planning issues often conflict with traditional family values. Nigeria is Africa's most populous country, yet has one of the highest infant and maternal mortality rates in the world. The Ibu Eze ceremony, which celebrates women who have given birth to large numbers of children, is perhaps the only recognition a woman will receive for her efforts. Contrasting with the festivities are views of community members who raise the idea that praising large families without considering quality of life is not necessarily a blessing for women.
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Margaret Sanger

MARGARET SANGER: A PUBLIC NUISANCE highlights Sanger's pioneering strategies of using media and popular culture to advance the cause of birth control. It tells the story of her arrest and trial, using actuality films, vaudeville, courtroom sketches and re-enactments, video effects and Sanger's own words. This witty and inventive documentary looks at how Sanger effectively changed public discussion of birth control from issues of morality to issues of women's health and economic well-being. Executive producers of the program are Barbara Abrash, Esther Katz and Laurence Hegarty. MARGARET SANGER was funded by the Independent Television Service (ITVS) with funds provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
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Underexposed

Combining drama and documentary, UNDEREXPOSED: THE TEMPLE OF THE FETUS is a savvy and creative probe into high-tech baby-making. The fictional framework of a TV journalist who unearths the ethical complications associated with new reproductive technologies allows thefilm to present complex documentary information about this issue in a clear and insightful way. From the director of I NEED YOUR FULL COOPERATION.
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Something Like a War

SOMETHING LIKE A WAR is a chilling examination of India’s family planning program from the point of view of the women who are its primary targets. It traces the history of the family planning program and exposes the cynicism, corruption and brutality which characterizes its implementation. As the women themselves discuss their status, sexuality, fertility control and health, it is clear that their perceptions are in conflict with those of the program. SOMETHING LIKE A WAR is an excellent resource for the study of international development and aid, population control, reproductive rights, health and women.
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With a Vengeance

This urgent and timely film is a history of the struggle for reproductive freedom since the 1960s, reflecting the wider history of the contemporary women's movement. WITH A VENGEANCE is an empowering look at the strength and breadth of the current women's movement which asks why current battles resemble those of the 60s. Rare archival footage and interviews with early abortion rights activists, including members of Redstockings and the JANE Collective, are intercut with young women who testify to the need for multi-racial grassroots coalitions. Flo Kennedy and Byllye Avery exemplify African American women's roles as leaders, making connections between racism, reproductive freedom and healthcare for the poor.
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I Need Your Full Cooperation/Underexposed

In these two compelling films, Kathy High explores the relationship between women’s bodies and the medical institution. Now a classic, I NEED YOUR FULL COOPERATION (1989, 28 mins) is a critical commentary on the patriarchal medical world and the past experimental techniques used to control female sexuality and reproductive capacities. Combining drama and documentary, UNDEREXPOSED: THE TEMPLE OF THE FETUS, (1992, 72 mins) is a savvy and creative documentary probe into the high-tech baby-making market and emerging reproductive technologies.
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Healthcaring

A classic chronicle of women's relationship to gynecology and healthcare, produced by Women Make Movies. In this bold and sensitive documentary, women of all ages and backgrounds speak candidly of their experiences with the healthcare system. HEALTHCARING documents the growing number of women who are questioning longstanding medical practices and working to implement alternative and more effective health care. The positive, warm style of the film encourages women to share their own experiences and gain a better sense of their right to receive better healthcare.
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