New movie on abortion attempts to spark honest debate

12142009     South Dakota

A new independent film explores the issue of a woman's ability to chose to have an abortion, using a blend of the drama and documentary genres. “South Dakota: A woman's right to chose” isn't in theaters yet, but it has riveted audiences at a series of screenings in California.

Bruce Isacson, director of “South Dakota,” began with the idea of making a documentary on the subject of abortion.” However, Isacson knew that he couldn't reach large numbers of people with the documentary genre. Historically, he notes on the movie's website, “documentaries draw small audiences, so my passion to bring clear understanding of the subject stirred me to dramatize two personal true-life stories from the documentary that would represent both sides of the issue.”
The result is a movie that dramatizes the stories of two teenage girls who become pregnant unexpectedly. Interspersed with the action are interviews and sound clips of various pro-abortion and pro-life advocates. Featured pro-abortion figures are: Gloria Allred, Alexander Sanger, Peter Singer, Lee Silver and Dr. Wendy Savage. Pro-life commentary is offered by Prof. Robert George, Bill Hurlbut, the former abortion doctor Bernard Nathanson and Michael Schwartz.

“People haven't been discussing this issue properly," Director Bruce Isacson told the LA Times. “Both sides don't express themselves well. Where is the information? Where is the intelligent discussion?”

The movie was produced by Howard Kazanjian, (Star Wars Return of the Jedi, Indiana Jones Raiders of the Lost Ark.) It will be marketed by Motive Entertainment (The Passion of the Christ, The Polar Express, The Chronicles of Narnia, Expelled).

The film isn't in theaters yet, but it drew an impressive reaction from a screening in front of nearly 1,000 Los Angeles high school girls. After the screening, Dolores O'Riordan, lead singer of the Cranberries moderated a town-hall discussion with the girls, the LA Times reports.   

Motive Entertainment Chief Executive Paul Lauer told the Times that this screening and discussion is “a guinea pig for something we may do all across the country.”  “In each market where we do the town-hall screenings we will be inviting leaders, organizations and individuals who represent both sides of the debate."

However, there are some who think that the film leans toward the pro-life side. Lori Meeks, USC associate professor of religion, wondered if the producers of the film “may be trying to attract anti-abortion audiences who will like the film because it allows them to feel good about reaching out to the other side without forcing them to challenge their beliefs in a serious way.” “It'll be interesting to see how the pro-choice advocates interviewed in the film react,” she said.

At this stage of the film, the producers are not giving further comment, Lauer told CNA. However, he noted that readers can view the remarks made at the LA screening for high school girls by visiting,

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