The documentary The 8th from directors Lucy Kennedy, Maeve O’Boyle, and Aideen Kane tells the story of Irish women and their fight to overturn one of the most restrictive abortion bans in the world. The film will have its U.S. premiere at the 2020 Human Rights Watch Film Festival, taking place June 11-20, 2020.
The 8th traces Ireland’s campaign to remove the 8th Amendment – a constitutional ban on abortion. It shows a country’s transformation from a conservative state in thrall to the Catholic church to a more liberal secular society.
The 8th includes voices from both sides of the debate, but its primary focus is on the dynamic female leaders of the pro-choice campaign. The film follows the veteran campaigner Ailbhe Smyth and self-described glitter-activist Andrea Horan as they chart a bold strategy of grassroots activism and engineer the impossible. This dramatic story is underscored by a vivid exploration of the wrenching failures that led to this defining moment in Irish history.
An urgent narrative, a cautionary tale and a roadmap for progressive reforms in a modern era where authoritarianism is on the rise, The 8th shows a country forging a new progressive path at a time when reproductive rights are threatened around the world.
In a joint statement, co-directors Lucy Kennedy, Maeve O’Boyle, Aideen Kane, said “We grew up in Ireland under the shadow of the 8th Amendment. We witnessed its impact on women’s lives – most notably the X case – a 14 year old rape victim who was refused permission to leave the country for an abortion and the death of Savita Halappanaver. When the government called a referendum to repeal the 8th amendment, we knew this was one of the most important stories of our generation. Our goal was to document this defining moment in the context of Ireland’s historic treatment of women.”