A soon-to-be released film chronicling a pregnant teen's struggle for survival is not so much a story about abortion, the director says, even though the mother chooses life for her child despite difficult circumstances.
“This isn't a film about abortion,” writer and director Ron Krauss of the Jan. 24 film, “Gimme Shelter”, told CNA in a recent interview.
He affirmed that although the film is undoubtedly pro-life, the story does not so much center around the teen's choice to have her child, as it does her struggle to become a young mother.
“This young girl made her decision to have that child and when we get into the film; that decision is made already,” Krauss pointed out.
The film was inspired by Kathy DiFiore's decades of work with her Several Sources Shelters which offer a variety of means of assistance to the poor and marginalized, especially at-risk pregnant women who need a safe place the prepare for motherhood and to raise their children.
“I just tried to display to the people what I saw with no opinion on it. I tried not to get in the way of the story,” Krauss added.
In the film, Agnes “Apple” Bailey, played by Vanessa Hudgens and based on a real shelter resident, runs away from her abusive mother, played by Rosario Dawson. As a young mother, she does whatever she can to survive, including sleeping in unlocked cars and eating out of dumpsters.
When a car accident lands her in the hospital, a Catholic priest, played by James Earl Jones, visits Apple and challenges her to begin a new life by getting help from a local pregnancy shelter. Initially resistant, Apple agrees to seek help from one of Kathy DiFiore's Several Sources Shelters in New Jersey where she finds hope, security and sisterhood in preparing to become a mother.
After first learning of DiFiore's work, Krauss visited one of her shelters where he would eventually shoot the film. When he saw the work that was being carried out there and got to know the young mothers and their children, he worked on transforming what he saw into a movie for a broad audience.
“The audience is everybody because anybody who sees this and has a heart – their heart is going to start ticking. Human compassion and love, they transcend everybody. It crosses all dividing lines.”
When he approached DiFiore with the screenplay, she was initially reluctant, but approved of it when it was changed to focus more on the girls and the work being carried out in her shelters, rather than about her.
“Kathy felt that perhaps if the movie were more about the work and not about her, it would be more inspiring to people,” Krauss explained.
DiFiore stressed that the most important element of the film is that it serves to let women know that help exists when they find themselves in need during an unplanned or difficult pregnancy.
She encouraged anyone who sees the film and needs help to visit lifecall.org, which lists pregnancy resources as well as over 550 homes and over 2,000 crisis pregnancy shelters throughout the U.S.
If viewers know of shelters that are not listed on the site, she urged them to get in touch with her directly. Alternatively, if there is no shelter in a viewer's area, she encouraged them to get in touch with her for resources on opening their own shelter.