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Belly of the Beast by Erika Cohn

rePRO by, a new five-day virtual film festival dedicated to exploring women’s reproductive healthcare, awareness, advocacy, and bodily integrity in America, has announced its line-up for the inaugural festival will take place online from August 12-16, 2020. The line-up of films and conversations, which will be open to anyone in the US, includes documentaries and narratives dealing with women’s rights, endometriosis, illegal sterilization, access to abortion, and reproductive justice for women of color, among other topics. The program was announced today by the festival’s founders, Lela Meadow-Conner, Mallory Martin, and Debby Samples.

The festival will host five days of features, short films, and themed-conversations focused on a range of topics including healthcare access, fertility, pregnancy, sexual education, abortion, and issues related to the gender spectrum. Each conversation will include call-to-action messaging on how people can get involved in a corresponding initiative or topic. The conversations, designed to spotlight the creators who dare to tell stories about women’s reproductive rights, and to showcase courageous advocators, will be available online for free globally.

The feature films playing in the festival are directed by women, and all filmmakers (including shorts) are being paid to screen their films. The pay-what-you-can film ticket proceeds for films at the festival will be converted to donations, split evenly among five beneficiary non-profit organizations – SisterSong, Endometriosis Foundation of America, Center for Reproductive Rights, URGE and Trust Women.

The features playing at the festival will include the opening night film Belly of the Beast by Erika Cohn, which examines illegal sterilization of prisoners and other crimes within the US women’s prison system; Shannon Cohn’s eye-opening endometriosis documentary Endo What?; Jo Ardinger’s pregnancy policing movement film Personhood; Maria Finitzo’s female sexual desire documentary The Dilemma of Desire; and Jan Haaken’s Our Bodies Our Doctors, which chronicles the lives of several abortion providers, and the difficulties they face in their daily lives. 

With the rising threat to American women’s autonomy over their own bodies, the festival’s main goal is to lift up the voices of those who are advocating for women’s reproductive justice during this vital election year, as well as encourage active participation and establish a more equitable future for generations to come.

The festival, a project of the Wichita & Cleveland based non-profit film series, is founded by Mallory Martin, Lela Meadow-Conner, and Debby Samples. These women collectively have decades of experience working in the film festival industry and have also experienced the joys and challenges of motherhood.

Story-driven film is a hugely important tool in modern culture – it helps us define the world we live in and creates empathy for those we relate to, and those we don’t understand. The three of us have young children and want them to grow up in a world where they and their peers have access to fundamental reproductive rights and freedoms, and we will advocate for that in any way we can, especially before this November’s election. Without conversation and awareness, we cannot nurture equality and change, and we cannot expect future generations to do so. Right now, this is a conversation without an expiration date. But through the incredible work of so many activists, we have met along the rePRO journey, we are confident someday the fight will end.” Founders

The festival will also present a special “ChangemakeHER” Award to recognize an exceptional individual who has provided significant contribution towards the fight for women’s reproductive healthcare, including education, awareness, and activism. This recipient will be announced at a later date. Tickets are on sale as of today (July 22nd) online at Tickets are all pay-what-you-can ($5, $10, or $15) with a limited number of complimentary vouchers available upon request to ensure access for all.

Festival Line-Up

Day 1 August 12: ‘rePro Justice For Women of Color

rePRO examines reproductive healthcare injustices faced by women of color.

Belly of the Beast by Erika Cohn
Belly of the Beast, Erika Cohn

Directed by Erika Cohn / Documentary
When a courageous young woman and a radical lawyer discover a pattern of illegal involuntary sterilizations in California’s women’s prison system, they take to the courtroom to wage a near-impossible battle against the Department of Corrections. With a growing team of investigators inside prison working with colleagues on the outside, they uncover a series of statewide crimes – from dangerously inadequate health care to sexual assault to coercive sterilizations – primarily targeting women of color. But no one believes them. This shocking legal drama captured over seven years features extraordinary access and intimate accounts from currently and formerly incarcerated women, demanding our attention to a shameful and ongoing legacy of eugenics and reproductive injustice in the United States.

Short Film Program – rePro Justice For Women of Color

Directed by Devon Collins / Narrative
Peer into the world of the film’s lead protagonist, Nina. An elite lawyer, loyal wife, and loving mother of a teen boy, Nina is navigating life (and a pregnancy) to the best of her ability. But sometimes the forces on a woman – especially a black woman – can be too much to bear.

Directed by Sue-Ellen Chitunya  / Documentary
Black Women For Wellness is a non-profit organization located in Leimert Park, a neighborhood in the South Los Angeles region of Los Angeles. The organization works diligently to serve the community, focusing on the health and well-being of Black women and girls through their advocacy work and a Comprehensive Sex Education program called Get Smart Before You Get Sexy.


Curated call-to-action conversations with filmmakers, experts and relevant non-profit representatives for the day will include:

  • rePRO JUSTICE FOR WOMEN OF COLOR – a conversation to amplify the reproductive healthcare injustices faced by women of color
  • ILLEGAL STERILIZATION – a conversation to expose the history of illegal sterilization in America

Day 2 August 13: Believe Me, It’s My Body

Endo What? by Shannon Cohn
Endo What?, Shannon Cohn

rePRO examines the antiquated status quo for women’s reproductive healthcare issues.

Directed by Shannon Cohn / Documentary
Endometriosis or “endo” is the most common, devastating disease that most people have never heard of. It affects 1 in 10 girls and women. That’s approximately 176,000,000 people on the planet. Despite its prevalence, women see an average of 8 doctors for 10 years before diagnosis. During that time, many are forced to miss school, leave careers they love, abandon dreams of having children and watch their personal relationships suffer. They’re often told incorrectly by doctors that pregnancy & hysterectomy are cures and that pain is normal or in their heads. After diagnosis, they’re usually prescribed an array of drugs & undergo multiple, ineffective surgeries. It’s time to break that cycle. It’s time for a new normal that doesn’t mean multiple doctors, drugs, surgeries, misdiagnoses and years of pain. The only film of its kind, Endo What? gives an accurate, up-to-date base of knowledge straight from the experts. It’s a film to educate & put power where it belongs – in the hands of girls & women.

Short Film Program – Believe Me, It’s My Body

Directed by Shelby Hadden / Animated Documentary
A woman recounts her experience living with chronic pelvic pain – how health professionals have failed her, men have rejected her, and shame, anger, and hatred have plagued her body.

Directed by Alice Seabright  / Narrative
Jaq wants to have sex. But her Endometriosis is out to sabotage her: with chronic pain and unpredictable bleeding – at the very worst time!

Directed by Sindha Agha  / Animated Documentary
In this inventive self-portrait, filmmaker Sindha Agha features an unlikely cast of sinister Icelandic sheep, clumsy endives and an OB-GYN who talks with the voice of a robot to chronicle the epic saga of her struggle with the side effects of birth control medication. 


Curated call-to-action conversations with filmmakers, experts and relevant non-profit representatives for the day will include:

  • BELIEVE ME, IT’S MY BODY – a conversation to empower women to demand adequate services from their healthcare providers
  • ENDOMETRIOSIS 101 – a conversation to educate both women and the medical community about the need for accurate diagnosis of endometriosis

Day 3 August 14: When Pregnancy Gets Complicated

rePRO examines how one of the most complicated experiences of some women’s lives can get even more complicated.

Personhood by Jo Ardinger
Personhood, Jo Ardinger

Directed by Jo Ardinger / Documentary
The film follows the story of Tammy Loertscher, a rural Wisconsin woman who was forcibly detained after revealing her history of depression and occasional drug use during a prenatal appointment. Her fetus was given an attorney, while the courts denied Loertscher her constitutional rights and sent her to jail. This timely documentary tracks the rise of the “fetal personhood” movement and reveals a growing system of laws in America that criminalize and police pregnant people – especially lower income women and women of color. At the intersection of the erosion of women’s rights, the war on drugs, and mass incarceration, Loertscher’s experience reveals the dangerous ripple effects of anti-choice policies on women who have no intention of ending their pregnancies.

Short Film Program – When Pregnancy Gets Complicated

Directed by Heather Jack / Narrative
Underemployed and reeling from a recent miscarriage, comedy writer Jo McDowell’s life is getting less funny by the minute. When she lands a meeting that could turn it all around, she has to make a decision: tell the truth or go for the laugh? A poignant comedy based on a true story.

Directed by Grasie Mercedes  / Narrative
Real-life husband and wife duo, Damien Fahey and Grasie Mercedes, co-write and star in EGG DAY. Based on their real-life experience, EGG DAY is a dark comedy short about the egg retrieval process during a couple’s IVF. 

Directed by Leslie Tai  / Documentary
China’s rich and infertile are flocking to Southern California to hire American surrogates to have their babies for them. Qiqi is a Chinese surrogacy broker who is pursuing her American Dream by matching Chinese parents-to-be and American wombs. One day, Qiqi decides to have a baby via American surrogate herself.

Directed by Isabella Wing-Davey / Narrative
The darkness of postnatal depression threatens to overwhelm Susannah, but a chance encounter with Rupa might be the help she needs.


Curated call-to-action conversations with filmmakers, experts and relevant non-profit representatives for the day will include:

  • WHEN PREGNANCY GETS COMPLICATED – a conversation to cancel the shame and embrace the struggles that often come with pregnancy and the path to get there
  • POSTPARTUM MENTAL HEALTH – a conversation to talk openly and honestly about postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety, and postpartum psychosis
  • POLICING PREGNANCY – a conversation that examines the growing system of laws that infringes on a pregnant woman’s bodily autonomy

Day 4 August 15: Let’s Talk About It

rePRO examines how people have been made to feel ashamed about their bodies.

The Dilemma of Desire by Maria Finitzo
The Dilemma of Desire, Maria Finitzo

Directed by Maria Finitzo / Documentary
Entertaining, thrilling and radical, THE DILEMMA OF DESIRE explores the work of four women who are shattering myths and lies about female sexual desire, bodies and – ultimately – power. Groundbreaking artist Sophia Wallace challenges long-held ideas of women with her “cliteracy” project, putting front and center the clitoris as fundamental to female orgasm. Dr. Stacey Dutton, a neuroscientist who realized she had never seen a drawing of the clitoris until she discovered Wallace’s work, is now committed to studying its biology and pushing the publishing industry to correct the deliberate omissions of the clitoris in major anatomy textbooks. With 20 years of research, Dr. Lisa Diamond is dismantling outdated notions about women’s arousal. And industrial designer Ti Chang heads CRAVE, a company dedicated to designing and manufacturing elegant vibrators for women. Providing the embodiment of this work are the personal stories of Umnia, Becca, Jasmine, Sunny, and Coriama – five young women discovering and owning their sexuality. THE DILEMMA OF DESIRE is a powerful reminder that true equality will come only when we all arrive at a place of understanding and acknowledgement that women are sexual beings, entitled to live their lives fully within the expression of their desire. 

Short Film Program – Let’s Talk About It

Directed by Giulia Gandini / Narrative
A 12-year-old girl has her first period in class. Her skirt is stained red. She is up next to present her final paper in front of all her peers. Will she find a way out of the ‘uncomfortable’ situation?

Directed by Arielle Goldman / Narrative
In an effort to break down the stigma of menstruation and global miseducation that leads to period bias, Day One delicately and specifically portrays a simple study of a woman’s physical and emotional body at the start of her period.

Directed by Thea Hollatz / Animated Narrative
Ace Naismith is having a hot flash, and she is about to go live on local television. Hot Flash is a journey into the funny, uncomfortable and sometimes maddening world of an aging professional woman navigating a culture that puts great emphasis on physical appearance.

Directed by Camila Kater / Animated Documentary
Rare, medium rare, medium, medium well and well done. Through intimate and personal stories, five women share their experiences in relation to the body, from childhood to old age. Told through five animation techniques by five different female animators, Flesh highlights the perverse way in which society looks at women – as a piece of meat. 

Short Film Program – Gender Spectrum Lens

Directed by Aubree Bernier-Clarke / Documentary
1.5% of people are born with anatomy that doesn’t fit typical definitions of female or male. It is common practice for doctors to perform genital surgeries on intersex infants – often with disastrous results. A Normal Girl brings the widely unknown struggles of intersex people to light, through the story of intersex activist Pidgeon Pagonis.

Directed by Ozzy Villazòn  / Narrative
A transgender teenager faces an unwanted pregnancy and risks losing everything he loves in order to live courageously.

Directed by Arkasha Stevenson / Narrative
A young transgender woman considers a dangerous operation that may be her only option in gaining a more feminine body.


Curated call-to-action conversations with filmmakers, experts and relevant non-profit representatives for the day will include:

  • LET’S TALK ABOUT IT – a conversation to eradicate the stigmas around the uterus, period
  • GENDER SPECTRUM LENS – a conversation to demand equity in healthcare services for people of all genders
  • GET CLITERATE – a conversation to celebrate the power of the clitoris and shatter the myths around female sexuality

Day 5 August 16: rePro-Choice

rePRO examines the fight for a woman’s right to bodily autonomy. 

Our Bodies Our Doctors by Jan Haaken
Our Bodies Our Doctors, Jan Haaken

Directed by Jan Haaken / Documentary
OUR BODIES OUR DOCTORS tells the rarely-discussed story of what it means to be an abortion provider today: confronting threats of violence and facing intensified political threats and efforts to criminalize abortion. Religious control over health care is expanding, including in many pro-choice states. The abortion debate continues to be defined by gruesome images of the anti-abortion movement. In contrast, this film provides a crucial, hopeful point of view: an intimate glimpse into the lives of these courageous providers who have devoted their careers to ensuring women have access to skilled, compassionate care.

Short Film Program – rePro-Choice

Directed by Melisa Resch / Narrative
A love story in the age of protest. Sparks fly between two women when they meet at a clinic defense demonstration.

Directed by Kira Dane, Katelyn Rebelo / Animated Documentary
Inspired by a Buddhist ritual to grieve abortions, a Japanese-American woman reevaluates what it means to end her own pregnancy.

Directed by Barbara Attie, Janet Goldwater, Mike Attie / Documentary
At an abortion helpline in Philadelphia, counselors arrive each morning to the nonstop ringing of calls from women and teens who are seeking to end a pregnancy but can’t afford to. In this short documentary we learn how economic stigma and cruel legislation determines who in America has access to abortion. 


Curated call-to-action conversations with filmmakers, experts and relevant non-profit representatives for the day will include:

  • rePRO Representation in Media Keynote on the entertainment industry’s influence over societal narratives, particularly the right to choose whether to continue a pregnancy – presented by lecturer, former practicing attorney, author and Skadden fellow Dr. Kathleen Tarr
  • ACCESS TO ABORTION CARE – a conversation that brings to light current laws and policies prohibiting both abortion providers from offering care and the people who need access to it
  • In-conversation event with the recipient of the ‘ChangemakeHER Award’
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