A New Film Festival Highlights Reproductive Rights
Written by Mallory Martin, Lela Meadow-Conner, and Debby Samples
Photography by Photo Via rePRO Film A Normal Girl
If you’ve just about reached the end of Netlix and are looking for a great flick (or 25 of them!), look no further than the upcoming rePRO Film Festival. The debut, 5-day event (August 12-16) focuses on vital stories related to reproductive care and rights in the U.S. From a documentary examining illegal sterilization of California prisoners to deep-dives on endometriosis, sexual desire, trans pregnancy, intersex children, and much more, there is so much good stuff packed into this inaugural event. Aside from the films themselves (see more info on each flick below), there will be virtual conversations with directors, policy makers, and reproductive rights advocates. For today’s “Mom Talk,” the three mothers who birthed rePRO tell us about its origins and its importance (especially during an election year).
What is the craziest thing that three moms with full-time jobs and four kids under 12 could do during a pandemic? Plan a virtual film festival dedicated to women’s reproductive health care and justice in six weeks. What is the craziest thing that these three moms could NOT do during a pandemic with small kids afoot, three months before one of the most vital elections of our lifetime? NOT do this.
The three of us work in the film festival industry by day, and moonlight with the non-profit film series mama.film by evening/middle of the night/early mornings. Through media and dialogue, mama.film nourishes the dynamic network that is engaged in shaping the changemakers and nurturers of our future. With chapters in Wichita and Cleveland, the series was originally intended to create in-person experiences for nurturers of all kinds, who could gather around the very accessible medium of film, for authentic and tangible conversations about the human experience, especially as it relates to raising good humans. Story-driven film is a hugely important tool in modern culture—it helps us define the world we live in and creates empathy for those we relate to, and those we don’t understand. Without conversation and awareness, we cannot nurture equality and change, and we cannot expect future generations to do so.
When mama.film received a small grant from the Dr. George R. Tiller Memorial Fund for the Advancement of Women’s Health, we spent a few Fridays during the first few weeks of June on Zoom, drinking wine and talking about how we might be able to put this grant to good use prior to November 3rd—otherwise, what was the point? If we could put our collective “virtual film festival/cinema” experiences together, maybe we could just pull it off. As we began reaching out to our villages, our Zoom calls became more frequent, often punctuated by appearances from an adorable 18-month-old, chatty 5-year-olds in princess dresses and tap shoes, and moody pre-teens.
We believe in the power of film—especially independent, documentary, and foreign cinema—as a connector for people from all walks of life, and the power that on-screen representation can have as we relate to others and navigate our way through this world. And so, rePRO by mama.film was born. Through various lenses—and by harnessing the power of cinema as a catalyst for connection and conversation—rePRO presented by mama.film will explore the past, present, and future of women* and AFAB people’s reproductive healthcare, awareness, advocacy, and bodily integrity in America.
As much hard work as it has been, we recognize the advantages that being stuck at home during this pandemic has brought us: in addition to our health of course, and the fact that we all remain gainfully employed, rePRO would not have come together in the way that it did, and so quickly, had we all not been feeling this collective sense of uncertainty, dread, doom, fear, depression, exhaustion, [insert your favorite adjective for this shitshow here]…and dare we say it, possibly hope.
rePRO is not only the story of catalyzing five amazing feature films and twenty incredible short films as a vehicle for accessibility, awareness, and change around women’s reproductive healthcare, inequalities, and injustices, it’s also the story of the filmmakers who were brave enough to tell these on-screen depictions of subjects that are all too often deemed taboo by our society—menstruation, menopause, IVF, postpartum mental health, endometriosis, female sexuality, and abortion care, to name just a few. Even though 49% of the world’s population are women, and literally no one would exist without us!
Finally, it is the story of an incredible village of women* and AFAB people coming together—the activists and advocates who are out there fighting for us on a daily basis, who are willing to come together through our Call-to-Action Conversations, to help us understand what we can all do to make the world a more just place for our children. It is a story of hope.
All box office proceeds from rePRO will be donated directly to our five beneficiary organizations, including Sister Song, Center for Reproductive Rights, Endometriosis Foundation of America, URGE, and Trust Women. Tickets, available to anyone in the U.S., are pay-what-you-can $5/$10/$15 with a limited number of vouchers available for those who are unable to pay. All Call-to-Action Conversations are free and available globally.
*The authors’ definition of “women” includes transgender, genderqueer, and non-binary people who are woman-identified.
Check out trailers and buy tickets for these rePRO films below:
Wednesday, August 12: Toxic: A Black Woman’s Story, Black Women for Wellness, Belly of the Beast
Thursday, August 13: Tightly Wound, End-O, Birth Control Your Own Adventure, Endo What?
Friday, August 14: Avalanche, Egg Day, My American Surrogate, Stand Still, Personhood, 62 Days
Saturday, August 15: My Time, Day One, Hot Flash, Flesh, A Normal Girl, Get The Life, Vessels, The Dilemma of Desire
Sunday, August 16: The Line, Mizuko, Abortion Helpline, This is Lisa, Our Bodies Our Doctors
What rePRO’s founders say you can’t miss: Saturday evening’s presentation or rePRO & Chill with The Dilemma of Desire, followed by Get Cliterate, a Call-to-Action Conversation to celebrate the power of the clitoris and shatter the myths around female sexuality, with the filmmakers and moderator Twanna Hines.
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