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HEALTH AND POLITICS
 
Today, when we talk about health, we're also talking about politics. These films explore important topics including environmental health, childbirth, abortion rights and body image.

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films in this collection

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Arresting Ana
Anorexia Online

A film by Lucie Schwartz

Sarah, a French college student runs a “pro-Ana” blog, part of a global online community of young women sharing tips on living with anorexia. Valerie Boyer is a passionate French National Assembly legislator proposing a groundbreaking bill to ban these online forums, issuing hefty fines and two-year prison sentences to their members. Eye-opening and extremely timely, ARRESTING ANA is the first film on a burgeoning movement promoting self-starvation. More

Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival, Margaret and Will Hearst Prize for Documentary Excellence

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The Fat Body (In)Visible
A film by Margitte Kristjansson

"While I have all the confidence in the world, I’m told every day that my body is revolting." Jessica turns heads in the street—for both her striking fashion, and larger than average body. She has learned to ignore the frequent insults which come her way, but it has not been an easy journey. Keena is the heaviest she has ever been—and the happiest. Confident and attractive, she decided long ago that dieting is not for her. Keena and Jessica—and filmmaker Margitte Kristjansson—are body acceptance activists, working to celebrate body diversity and the right to be happy whatever your body size. More


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A Healthy Baby Girl
A film by Judith Helfand

In 1963 filmmaker Judith Helfand's mother was prescribed the ineffective, carcinogenic synthetic hormone diethylstilbestrol (DES), meant to prevent miscarriage and ensure a healthy baby. At twenty-five, Judith was diagnosed with DES-related cervical cancer. After a radical hysterectomy she went to her family's home to heal and picked up her camera. The resulting video-diary is a fascinating exploration of how science, marketing and corporate power can affect our deepest relationships. Shot over five years, A HEALTHY BABY GIRL tells a story of survival, mother-daughter love, family renewal, and community activism. Intimate, humorous, and searing, it is an invaluable resource for anyone interested in the relationship between women's health, public policy, medical ethics and corporate responsibility. More

Peabody Award, 1997

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I Had an Abortion
A film by Gillian Aldrich and Jennifer Baumgardner

Underneath the din of politicians posturing about "life" and "choice" and beyond the shouted slogans about murder and rights, there are real stories of real women who have had abortions. Each year in the US, 1.3 million abortions occur, but the topic is still so stigmatized it’s never discussed in polite company. Powerful, poignant, and fiercely honest, I HAD AN ABORTION tackles this taboo, featuring 10 women – including famed feminist Gloria Steinem – who candidly describe experiences spanning seven decades, from the years before Roe v. Wade to the present day. Filmmakers Jennifer Baumgardner (author of Manifesta: Young Women, Feminism, and the Future) and Gillian Aldrich insightfully document how changing societal pressures have affected women’s choices and experiences. More

Fargo Film Festival, Ruth Lanfield Award for Social Justice

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In Sickness and In Health
A film by Pilar Prassas, Edited by Peter Heacock

A deeply affecting film by newcomer Pilar Prassas and edited by Peter Heacock, In Sickness and In Health cuts through abstract ideologies, politics, and legalities to the human heart of the same-sex marriage debate in this amazing story of love, hope, and courage. More

Philadelphia International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Jury Award for Best Documentary & Festival Favorite
Southwest Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Audience Award Best Documentary

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Jane: An Abortion Service
A film by Kate Kirtz and Nell Lundy

This fascinating political look at a little-known chapter in women's history tells the story of "Jane", the Chicago-based women's health group who performed nearly 12,000 safe illegal abortions between 1969 and 1973 with no formal medical training. As Jane members describe finding feminism and clients describe finding Jane, archival footage and recreations mingle to depict how the repression of the early sixties and social movements of the late sixties influenced this unique group. Both vital knowledge and meditation on the process of empowerment, Jane: An Abortion Service showcases the importance of preserving women's knowledge in the face of revisionist history. More

National Educational Media Festival, Silver Apple
Atlanta Film and Video Festival, Best Documentary

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Latching On
The Politics of Breastfeeding in America

A film by Katja Esson

After filmmaker Katja Esson’s sister gave birth in Germany, she was able to breastfeed her baby anywhere and at any time. Returning home to New York, Esson found that breastfeeding was rarely practiced and largely unseen. Academy Award® Nominee Esson (Ferry Tales) turned her quirky eye on the subject and set out to learn why this was so. Her wide-ranging, frequently funny documentary highlights the intersecting economic, social, and cultural forces that have helped replace mother’s milk with formula produced by a billion dollar industry, and reveals the challenges and rewards for women who buck the trend. More


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Made in India: A Film about Surrogacy
A film by Rebecca Haimowitz & Vaishali Sinha

In San Antonio, Lisa and Brian Switzer risk their savings with a Medical Tourism company promising them an affordable solution after seven years of infertility. Halfway around the world in Mumbai, 27-year-old Aasia Khan, mother of three, contracts with a fertility clinic to be implanted with the Texas couple’s embryos. MADE IN INDIA, about real people involved in international surrogacy, follows the Switzers and Aasia through every stage of the process. More

Florida Film Festival 2011, Winner, Grand Jury Award for Best Documentary Feature
San Francisco Intl Asian American Film Festival, 2011, Winner, Jury Award for Best Documentary Feature Award

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Middle of Everywhere
The Abortion Debate from America's Heartland

A film by Rebecca Lee & Jesper Malmberg

South Dakota is America’s heartland—waving cornfields, hard-working farmers, family values and a population of 750,000, the majority of whom identify as conservative and anti-abortion. Native daughter Rebecca Lee returns home in 2006 on the brink of a historic state vote: House Bill 1215 could make South Dakota the first state to outlaw most abortions since Roe vs. Wade passed almost 30 years earlier. In The Middle of Everywhere, Lee discovers the debate to be complex, with both sides claiming compassion for women and the same desire to stop the need for abortion. More


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My Toxic Baby
A film by Min Sook Lee

This eye-opening, often amusing documentary by the director of Tiger Spirit, winner of Canada’s prestigious Donald Brittain Gemini Award, records the filmmaker’s quest for safe, sane and affordable ways to raise her child in a world embedded with toxic threats and still lead a normal life. Although new mother Min Sook Lee breast fed her daughter from birth, she used baby bottles too, only to discover that they leached a chemical byproduct linked to impaired health and serious diseases. This set in motion a journey that exposes hidden dangers in infant bath soaps, diaper rash creams, teething toys and many everyday products from an industry largely unregulated by law. For Lee, it also uncovers risks posed by our own homes and chemical contaminants we carry within our own bodies. More


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Orchids: My Intersex Adventure
A film by Phoebe Hart

Gen X filmmaker Phoebe Hart always knew she was different growing up – but she didn’t know why. This award-winning documentary traces Phoebe’s voyage of self-discovery as an intersex person, a group of conditions formerly termed hermaphroditism. Learning only in her teens that she was born with 46XY (male) chromosomes, Hart now seeks to understand her own story and the stories of others affected by this complex and often shameful syndrome. More

Australian Academy Cinema Television Arts Awards, Best Documentary Under 1 Hour
Honolulu Film Festival, Winner, Gold Kahuna Award

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Scarlet Road
A film by Catherine Scott, Produced by Pat Fiske

Impassioned about freedom of sexual expression, Australian sex worker Rachel Wotton specializes in a long overlooked clientele— people with disabilities. Working in New South Wales—where prostitution is legal— Rachel’s philosophy is that human touch and sexual intimacy can be the most therapeutic aspects to our existence. Indeed, she is making a dramatic impact on the lives of her customers, many of whom are confined to wheelchairs or cannot speak or move unaided. Through her graduate studies and her nonprofit group Touching Base, Rachel both fights for the rights of sex workers and promotes awareness and access to sexual expression for the disabled through sex work—and brings together these two often marginalized groups. More


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Toxic Trespass
A film by Barri Cohen

When Canadian filmmaker Barri Cohen discovers that her ten-year-old daughter’s blood carries carcinogens like benzene and the long-banned DDT, she travels to toxic hotspots to uncover startling clusters of deadly diseases. Juxtaposing interviews with affected families and experts with startling facts and footage, this film offers evidence that industrialized countries are conducting large-scale toxicological experiments on their children. More

Writer’s Guild of Canada, Screenwriting Award: Best Documentary
Columbus Film & Video Festival, Honorable Mention: Best Science & Technology Film

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Water Children
A film by Aliona van der Horst

In this acclaimed, hauntingly beautiful film, director Aliona van der Horst follows the unconventional Japanese-Dutch pianist Tomoko Mukaiyama as she explores the miracle of fertility and the cycle of life—sometimes joyful, sometimes tragic. When Mukaiyama recognized that her childbearing years were ending, she created a multimedia art project on the subject in a village in Japan, constructing what she calls a cathedral, out of 12,000 white silk dresses. While Mukaiyama’s own mesmerizing music provides a haunting backdrop to the film, her installation elicits confessions from its normally reticent Japanese visitors, many of whom have never seen art before—and in moving scenes they open up about previously taboo subjects. More

DOXA Documentary Film Festival, Winner, Feature Documentary Award



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Equity in Education


The films in this essential collection inspire social change in education. Learn about the role and impact of Title IX, examine gender disparities in math and science, and follow the personal story of an insightful high-school student whose life has been shaped by busing and school integration. See the full collection here.

Behind the Lens:
Women in Cinema

This extraordinary collection features titles that celebrate the lives and achievements of immigrants in the U.S. and explore ongoing struggles of immigrants today.

Shooting Women

As directors, producers, actors, and screenwriters, women have utilized the power of film to create and transform their stories and images. From sexual politics as a cinematic subject in SUFFRAGETTES IN THE SILENT CINEMA and as a cinematographic choice in FILMING DESIRE to interviews with women directors around the globe in SHOOTING WOMEN and SISTERS OF THE SCREEN, this collection presents a look at women’s crucial contributions to cinema’s history and global reach.


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Women Make Movies is a multicultural, multiracial, non-profit media arts organization which facilitates the production, promotion, distribution, and exhibition of independent films and videotapes by and about women. contact us