.- A film based on the true story of hope offered to a young woman in a crisis pregnancy received positive reviews after its screening at the United Nations in New York on Sept. 11.
The screening of “Gimme Shelter” was sponsored by the U.N. Women's Guild, whose mission is to help children in need throughout the world. U.N. Ambassadors and their wives were invited to attend the screening.
Long-standing member of the guild Kathy DiFiore is the founder of the Several Sources Shelters featured in the film.
“(The screening) was a great honor for me, for our Several Sources Shelters mothers and their babies, past, present and future as well as all other organizations in the United States and beyond who serve pregnant women in need,” DiFiore said.
“Gimme Shelter” focuses on Agnes “Apple” Bailey, portrayed by Vanessa Hudgens. Apple, whose character is based on a real person, is a pregnant 16-year-old who runs away from her abusive mother. She lives on the New Jersey streets, sleeping in unlocked cars and eating out of dumpsters.
After 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. He directs her to find help at a local pregnancy shelter. Initially resistant, Apple agrees. At the Several Sources Shelter she finds hope, security, and sisterhood in preparing to become a mother.
The young woman whose story is the basis for the film, Darlisha Dozier, was present for the screening and answered questions afterwards.
“She explained that while it was very difficult because of her prior abuse she endured, eventually she began to trust us. Her story is a common one but through God's grace with time and experience our young mothers learn to become a part of not only our Several Sources Family but God's holy family,” DiFiore said.
Zoe Chang, who serves on the International Board of the Guild, helped organize the screening and told CNA it is “a project we're very proud of.”
The film accurately portrayed the reality of many young women in crisis pregnancy situations who find help at these shelters, Chang said.
“One person, a man (in the audience) who didn’t know about the program...said he thought this is a fairytale, it’s not real,” she said. “I told him, this is real, we know, we have been visiting the shelter, we have met these girls, we know what’s happening, it’s not a fairy tale it’s the truth, it’s a true story.”
Director and producer of the film Ronald Krauss told CNA it was “amazing” to be present for the screening.
This is the second of Krauss’ films to be screened by the Women’s Guild. The first, Amexica, was shown in March 2011 and tells the story of a young boy sold into human trafficking.
“In a way it is like a collaboration because we both have the same goals to help others,” Krauss said.
Father Gerald Murray, pastor of the U.N. parish Church of the Holy Family, was present for the screening and said the film sends an important message about women’s rights.
“I think the whole push of women’s rights, which the U.N. has spent a lot of time discussing, has to include the right of women not to be coerced into abortion,” he said, “and the right of minors to receive non-coercive aid so that they can keep their baby if they wish to.”
It also reminded him of a pregnant, unmarried teenage girl who approached him 20 years ago looking for help.
“She wanted to keep her baby, and Kathy took her in and helped her,” he said. “She was going to give the baby up for adoption but she decided to keep it, and he grew up to be a fine young man.”
His overall impression: “It’s one of the most powerful pro-life movies I’ve ever seen.”
DiFiore said another screening of the film could be in the works.
“Several members of the Guild mentioned to me that they wanted to sponsor another screening in the future so more U.N. diplomats and their wives could attend.”
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