About: A woman sterilized without her consent while in prison teams with a dedicated attorney to stop the process.
When Kelli Dillon was serving time in a Californian prison for defending herself and her children from an abusive partner, she was misdiagnosed with cervical cancer. Without her consent, the treatment included the removal of her uterus. Soon, she found that this was neither an unfortunate error nor a unique case, but instead a common experience for other female inmates, particularly for other women of color. Working with attorney and activist Cynthia Chandler, Kelli fights to expose and prevent the illegal practice. Delving into America’s disturbing history of eugenics and the continued inhumane treatment of prisoners, Erika Cohn’s film profiles the hurdles still faced by those seeking to prevent racial and reproductive injustice.
Select Festivals: DOC NYC, IDFA, Palm Springs, Docs Against Gravity
About: A portrait of legendary foreign correspondent Robert Fisk.
The film screened as part of DOC NYC, for which our program notes read: Award-winning filmmaker Yung Chang (UP THE YANGTZE) profiles the legendary Middle East journalist Robert Fisk, known for his books PITY THE NATION and THE GREAT WAR FOR CIVILIZATION. Now in his 70s, Fisk remains vital and intrepid. The film follows him on contemporary reporting missions from Syria to Bosnia, while also looking back on the incomparable career that brought him face to face with Osama Bin Laden and virtually every other historic figure in the region.
Director: Alex Gibney, Ophelia Harutyunyan, and Suzanne Hillinger
World Premiere: Drive-in engagements (October 2020)
About: A thorough investigation of the failures of the US government to properly manage the COVID-19 pandemic.
Synthesizing the detection, spread, and failed response to COVID-19 over the past nine months in a surprisingly cogent and relatively concise manner, Alex Gibney, Ophelia Harutyunyan, and Suzanne Hillinger’s film, released less then a month before the US presidential election, has an obvious urgency and mission: to rightfully hold the Trump administration to task. While unlikely to reach, much less convince, die-hard MAGA supporters, one hopes that it may have some impact on those who are either on the fence or potentially considering avoiding the polls. While the film is crystal clear in its criticism of the administration, it backs up its arguments with legitimate science and facts, delivered by actual pandemic experts and whistleblowers, creating a sharp contrast with the federal government’s pandemic response: denial and dismissal of science, management by political yes-men with no scientific expertise, passing the buck to either the Obama administration or to state governments, and sowing misinformation, including unfounded pseudo-science. While those who have been closely following the unfolding story of the pandemic may already know much of what is onscreen, the film’s careful organization of every misstep and deliberate obfuscation allows for focused concentration in contrast to the dizzying news cycle we’ve grown accustomed to over the past seven months. It’s an infuriating watch, and that’s the point.