Margaret Sanger

A Public Nuisance

A film by Steve Bull, Terese Svoboda

1992 | 28 minutes | Color | DVD | Order No. 99245


MARGARET SANGER: A PUBLIC NUISANCE highlights Sanger's pioneering strategies of using media and popular culture to advance the cause of birth control. It tells the story of her arrest and trial, using actuality films, vaudeville, courtroom sketches and re-enactments, video effects and Sanger's own words. This witty and inventive documentary looks at how Sanger effectively changed public discussion of birth control from issues of morality to issues of women's health and economic well-being. Executive producers of the program are Barbara Abrash, Esther Katz and Laurence Hegarty.

MARGARET SANGER was funded by the Independent Television Service (ITVS) with funds provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.


"Spirited women's history presented with visual wit and charm."

Alix Kates Shulman

"Clever, funny, profound."

Faye Ginsburg NYU

"A truly wonderful captured my grandmother so very well and excitingly"

Alexander Sanger President, Planned Parenthood


  • The Getty, Best Experimental Biography of the 90's
  • National Education Film and Video Festival
  • Columbus Film Festival, Honorable Mention
  • Philadelphia Film and Video Festival
  • Berlin Videofest
  • World Wide Video Festival


Steve Bull

STEVE BULL is a mixed media technology artist whose practice includes writing computer code, rewriting historical narratives, recording audio interviews, and shooting video to create new location specific experiences delivered via cell phones. He was commissioned by the New-York Historical Society to create a cell phone tour of Lower Manhattan in support of their “Slavery in New York” exhibits.

In 2005, he produced the still and video design for Wet, a multi-media chamber opera that premiered at the Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater (REDCAT). His single channel videos have been exhibited at the Getty, the Museum of Modern Art, PBS New TV series, the Kitchen, American Film Institute, Mill Valley Film Festival, Berlin Video Festival, Columbus Film Festival, Bucks County Film Festival, Cork Film Festival, Cleveland Film Festival, a ten-city tour in Brazil, and Creative Time on 42nd Street. He received a New York State Council for the Arts grant for Cellphonia: In The News and was a Creative Capital finalist for this project.

As a member of the Directors Guild of America, he worked as a First Assistant Director for such directors as Sam Peckinpah, Stephen Frears, Eric Red, and Lindsay Anderson. As a writer, he co-developed the TV movies Playing For Time starring Vanessa Redgrave with screenplay written by Arthur Miller, and Hardhat and Legs with screenplay written by Garson Kanin and Ruth Gordon. His commercial clients include Ridley Scott Associates, R.Greenberg & Associates, Ed Vorkapitch, and Industrial Light & Magic. (7/07)

Terese Svoboda

A native of Ogallala, Nebraska, writer Terese Svoboda has studied at Manhattan College, Stanford University, Oxford University, the University of Colorado, the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, and Montreal University of Fine Arts. She graduated from the University of British Columbia and went on to earn her M.A. at Columbia University. Svoboda lived for a year in the Sudan, making documentary films and translating the songs of the Nuer people.

Svoboda’s best known novel, Cannibal, won the Bobst Prize and the Great Lakes Colleges Association New Writer’s Award and was chosen as one of the top ten books of the year by Spin. Her story “Party Girl” was a finalist in the 1995 Mississippi Review Prize competition. Svoboda also authored a book of nonfiction, Black Glasses Like Clark Kent, which won the 2007 Graywolf Nonfiction Prize. Her poetry and fiction have appeared in Antioch Review, APR, Columbia, Conjunctions, Georgetown Review, Harper’s, Paris Review, The New Yorker, Noon, Ohio Review, Vogue, and The Wall Street Journal. Some of Svoboda’s other works include Treason, A Drink Called Paradise, and Trailer Girl and Other Stories. Svoboda has translated some of her written work, particularly her poetry, into film. These poetry videos have been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art and broadcast nationally on PBS. Svoboda has taught at Sarah Lawrence College, The New School, the University of Hawaii, Williams College, San Francisco State University, and the College of William and Mary. She currently lives with her husband and children in New York City’s Chinatown. (10/09)

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