Friday, June 15, 2007

Unborn in the USA

What started as a senior thesis in a filmmaking class at Rice University has turned into a documentary, Unborn in the USA: Inside the War on Abortion, that has unprecedented access to the pro-life movement, including groups like Focus on the Family and Justice for All.

The reviews seem fairly positive, many of them pointing to the evenhandedness of the directors:

Slate Magazine: "If I had to guess, I would say the filmmakers are challenging the pro-choice movement to recognize that its opponents are people of deep conviction, and to examine its own beliefs in the harshest possible light."

Slant Magazine: "Flmmakers Stephen Fell and Will Thompson, having gained unprecedented access to the inner workings of pro-life groups across the country, have created an ungainly, distracted, but nonetheless fair-minded look at people who actively work to chip away at Roe v. Wade. . . . Unborn in the USA will not change your mind about abortion, but it will make pro-choicers think differently about people who actively work to stop it from happening."

New York Magazine: "Where do Fell and Thompson stand? With the exception of one title card—in which they demolish a woman's emotional assertion that having an abortion gave her breast cancer—they are rigorously objective. I'm sad to say that through the eyes of the movie's subjects the pro-choice activists come off as glib, unfeeling, and profane. The most harrowing sequence is saved for the end: A young woman becomes so distraught by the sight of these pictures that she slaps the minister who engages her and is taken away in handcuffs. But whatever your views on abortion (mine are extremely tangled), you need to hear the subjects of this film, if only to be able to fight them more effectively."

New York Times: "The documentary 'Unborn in the USA' is billed as a rigorously objective look at the anti-abortion movement, and that's accurate — but only to a point. The people who are the filmmakers' subjects are passionate, sometimes intemperate and often in-your-face aggressive, and the movie's topic is a powder keg regardless."

TV Guide: "Fell and Thompson rarely introduce the voices of pro-choice advocates, allowing antiabortionists the chance to speak uninterrupted and, as often as not, hang themselves with their own ropes."