The Planned Parenthood Projects That Demanded Attention At Sundance

Park City was hit with a storm of pink during Sundance Film Festival’s opening weekend, as Planned Parenthood arrived on the mountain with two film projects, further demonstrating the nonprofit’s ongoing efforts to educate the world about women’s reproductive rights through entertainment. 
The short film, Ours To Tell, was created in a collaboration with Planned Parenthood and We Testify, an organization dedicated to the representation of four people who have had abortions and now live empowered lives, as a result of their right to choose. The piece aims to humanize and reduce stigma around abortion through four firsthand stories, including two from marginalized communities. Directed by by Rayka Zehtabchi, who helmed the Oscar-winning short film Period: End of Sentence, Ours To Tell carries a timeliness to the current climate in the United States, as 25 new abortion restrictions were signed into law in 12 states in 2019.
The second Planned Parenthood project collaboration arrived during the festival’s opening night world premiere of the feature narrative Never Rarely Sometimes Always, directed by Eliza Hittman. The critically acclaimed film, which currently boasts a 100% Rotten Tomatoes score, is the first feature to take on the impact of parental consent laws in accessing abortion. Planned Parenthood worked with Hittman, location managers, producers, cast, and crew to ensure that the film depicted abortion in a medically accurate way. It’s set for a theatrical release on March 13, 2020. 
Planned Parenthood also hosted its eighth annual Sex, Politics, Film & TV Sundance event in partnership with Refinery29. The event honors creators and artists whose storytelling shifts culture on sexual and reproductive health issues. Hundreds of producers, directors, writers, and actors packed into the event’s main street venue to show their support. Featured speakers included Karrie Galloway, PP Association of Utah CEO; Caren Spruch, Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s Senior Director of Arts & Entertainment Engagement; and Elaine Welteroth, award-winning journalist, New York Times bestselling author, and the former Editor-in-Chief of Teen Vogue.

A sense of urgency, community, and responsibility flooded the room as guests listened to each speaker’s remarks about current attacks on women’s reproductive rights and how entertainment can facilitate activism around these issues.

Says Spruch, “Right now, as our health and rights are under attack like never before, the arts and entertainment community is leading the way in increasing understanding and combating stigma surrounding sexual and reproductive healthcare. In order to realize Planned Parenthood’s mission to achieve a world where everyone has the freedom to control their bodies and their futures, we need to change the culture around these issues.” Spruch has been spearheading Planned Parenthood’s relationship with artists for over 25 years, recently receiving the accolade of “Planned Parenthood’s Secret Weapon” in a Washington Post profile about her career.
In addition to Never Rarely, Sometimes Always, Planned Parenthood’s recent film and TV collaborations include including 20th Century Women, Obvious Child, The Deuce, Jane the Virgin, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, and Glow
Welteroth addressed storytellers directly in her speech about the media’s role and responsibility to women. “Pop culture plays a unique role in changing the conversation around some of the most pressing social issues. When that power is wielded for good, it does the heavy lifting on challenging stigmas and bias and ultimately shifting public perception toward acceptance, compassion, and understanding. That’s why it’s so crucial that we see more real, honest examples of women’s healthcare decisions and experiences, particularly around the issue of reproductive health — because as crazy as it sounds — many people learn about sexual and reproductive health through the medium of TV and film.”

Watch Ours To Tell below.  
Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable healthcare for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With more than 600 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect and without judgment. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable health information that allows people to make informed health decisions.

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