Next up in my overview of the 2013 Sundance Film Festival US Documentary Competition: AFTER TILLER, Martha Shane and Lana Wilson’s portrait of the only physicians in the country who perform controversial late-term abortions.
Sundance Program Description:
Since the assassination of Dr. George Tiller in Kansas in 2009, only four doctors in the United States continue to perform third-trimester abortions. These physicians, all colleagues of Dr. Tiller, sacrifice their safety and personal lives in the name of their fierce, unwavering conviction to help women. But for some in the pro-life movement, these doctors are “murderers” who must be stopped.
Offering audiences an unprecedented perspective, AFTER TILLER is an intimate look into each of the four physicians’ private and professional struggles. Wrenching moments in the clinics, when they gently counsel distraught patients facing grievous losses, force us to step into the shoes of both practitioner and patient and confront the full complexity of each decision. Decades after Roe v. Wade legalized abortion, the issue remains one of the most volatile in our public sphere. AFTER TILLER sensitively and artfully extricates the controversy from the ideological realm and humanizes those who have been demonized.
Shane previously co-directed and produced BI THE WAY, which premiered at SXSW, and is currently working on the documentary THE MYSTERY OF MARIE JOCELYNE. Wilson is a film and dance curator; this project marks her filmmaking debut.
Why You Should Watch:
If abortion by itself isn’t already a deeply polarizing topic, late-term abortion ups the controversy exponentially, as the murder of Dr George Tiller by anti-abortion extremists demonstrates. While this recent history is clearly ever-present for the physicians featured in Shane and Wilson’s film, the filmmakers take an effectively understated approach, privileging sanity over hysterics, to reveal the motivations for why these four brave individuals are willing to sacrifice so much – and perhaps risk their own lives – to serve their patients.
For updates on the doc, visit its website and Facebook page. For Wilson and Shane’s thoughts on the film, check out their Meet the Artists profile for Sundance and their Indiewire interview. For screening dates and times at Sundance, click the link in the first paragraph.