Films to Watch
Documentary filmmakers use the power of images and storylines to shine light on some of the most fascinating and egregious issues, including maternal health inequities, extreme poverty and women’s empowerment. They allow viewers to become active participants within the film, exploring the specific issue presented alongside the filmmaker. Films such as “No Woman, No Cry,” share glimpses of the real, unadulterated world with millions of viewers and bring to light the stories of people and places they might not otherwise know. When they’re moving, entertaining and beautifully crafted, documentaries impact change like nothing else.
Below are some of our favorite films that bring the Every Mother Counts’ mission to life. This is by no means an exhaustive list. Share your favorites with us too!
“No Woman, No Cry”
In her directorial debut, “No Woman, No Cry,” Christy Turlington Burns shares powerful stories from at-risk pregnant women around the world. Inspired by her own experience with a complication after the birth of her first child, Christy’s documentary film tells the stories of four women from a remote Maasai tribe in Tanzania, a slum in Bangladesh, a post-abortion care ward in Guatemala, and a prenatal clinic in the United States.
“Birth Story: Ina May Gaskin and The Farm Midwives”
“Birth Story: Ina May Gaskin and The Farm Midwives” (directed by Sara Lamm and Mary Wigmore), tells the story of counterculture heroine Ina May Gaskin. In 1970 Gaskin and friends began delivering each other’s babies on a caravan of hippie school buses headed to rural Tennessee. With Ina May as their leader, the women taught themselves midwifery and, along with their families, founded an entirely communal, agricultural society called The Farm. It has been more than 40 years since Ina May led the charge away from isolated hospital birthing rooms, where husbands weren’t allowed and forceps deliveries were the norm. Today, as nearly one third of US babies are born C-section, Gaskin fights to preserve her community’s hard-won knowledge. Birth Story captures the The Farm clinic’s unique sisterhood and shows childbirth the way most people have never seen it–unadorned, unabashed, and awe-inspiring.
By My Side
“By My Side,” (directed by Jean-Cosme Delaloye) tells the story of families living in La Chureca, the largest open-air landfill in Central America. The film follows three young women as they search for a better life and a way out of La Chureca, confront heart-wrenching decisions and determine whether their mothers are their best allies, or unexpected foes.
Set against the backdrop of the growing HIV/AIDS epidemic in Zambia and told through the eyes of an empowered heroine, “The Carrier” is a powerful portrait of an unconventional family,
“Dead Mums Don’t Cry”
Becoming a mother in Africa is among the most frightening and dangerous jobs in the world. “Dead Mums Don’t Cry” investigates why several hundred thousand women die every year in pregnancy and childbirth and documents one woman's struggle to keep mothers in her country alive.
“Miss Representation” (written and directed by Jennifer Siebel Newsom), exposes mainstream media’s contribution to the under-representation of women in positions of power and influence in America. Miss Representation challenges that the media’s limited and often disparaging portrayals of women and girls, makes it difficult for exceptional women to achieve leadership positions and for every woman to feel powerful.
“The Edge of Joy”
“The Edge of Joy” follows Nigerian doctors, midwives, and religious leaders as they battle the world's highest maternal mortality rate. The film chronicles distressed labors and miraculous survival inside a maternity ward and examines why more than 36,000 Nigerian women die every year from basic problems like lack of blood supply, transportation and family planning. Through unprecedented access to antenatal visits, labor and delivery services, family planning counseling, rural health seminars and reproductive health training, The Edge of Joy captures the dramatic story of pregnancy and childbirth in Nigeria.
“More Business of Being Born”
Executive producer Ricki Lake and filmmaker Abby Epstein follow their landmark documentary, “The Business of Being Born,” with an all-new, four part DVD series that continues their provocative and entertaining exploration of the modern maternity care system. “More Business of Being Born,” offers a practical look at birthing options as well as poignant celebrity birth stories from stars including Alanis Morissette, Gisele Bundchen, Christy Turlington Burns, Cindy Crawford, Molly Ringwald, Kimberly Williams-Paisley and Melissa Joan Hart.
When the United States invaded Afghanistan in October of 2001, hopes were high that democracy would bring enormous progress in health and education for Afghan women. But as of 2006 their fundamental right to adequate health care had not been met. In “Motherland Afghanistan,” Afghan American filmmaker Sedika Mojadidi journeys to the heart of this medical tragedy by following her father's return to Afghanistan to battle one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world.
“Orgasmic Birth” examines the everyday miracle and intimate nature of birth and the powerful role it plays in women’s lives when they are permitted to experience it fully. This film asks viewers to reexamine everything they know about giving birth and the potential it holds. Couples share their birth experiences, discuss their fears and how they found the support, nurturing, power and strength within themselves to labor and birth their babies in a beautiful, loving, and ecstatic way.
“Pray the Devil Back to Hell”
“Pray the Devil Back to Hell” chronicles the remarkable story of the courageous Liberian women who came together to end a bloody civil war and bring peace to their shattered country. Thousands of ordinary mothers, grandmothers, aunts and daughters, both Christian and Muslim, united to pray for peace and stage a silent protest outside the Presidential Palace. Armed only with white T-shirts and the courage of their convictions, they demanded resolution to the country’s civil war and were critical to bringing about an agreement during the stalled peace talks.
“A Walk to Beautiful”
The award winning feature-length documentary “A Walk to Beautiful” tells the stories of five Ethiopian women who suffer from devastating childbirth injuries and embark on a journey to reclaim their lost dignity. Rejected by their husbands and ostracized by their communities, these women were left to spend the rest of their lives in loneliness and shame. Instead, they chose to make the long and arduous journey to the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital in search of a cure and a new life.