Panel Featured Filmmakers Chinonye Chukwu and Dawn Porter
Park City, Utah — Today Planned Parenthood Federation of America hosted “Our Bodies, Our Stories: A Celebration of Unstoppable Black Women in TV and Film” at The MACRO Lodge at Sundance Film Festival. A panel featuring Planned Parenthood and filmmakers Chinonye Chukwu (Clemency) and Dawn Porter (Trapped) centered the experiences of Black women, celebrated Black women creators, and discussed why we need more stories about bodily autonomy.
Guests at the event included actors, artists and activists, including Ima Diawara, Tanya Selvaratnam, Amanda Seales, Tessa Thompson, Desiree Akhavan, and Diarah N’Daw-Spech. You can see photos from the event HERE.
We’re at a critical time in our nation. We already know the alarming rates of breast cancer and maternal mortality facing Black women. To make this more real, a study found that 40 percent of Black women can not afford more than $10 for birth control. This is a crisis,” said Alencia Johnson, director of public engagement at Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “In order to protect and advance policies that support our lives as Black women, we need more stories about our nuanced experiences. And that’s why we joined forces with MACRO to celebrate and deepen our work with Black women filmmakers.
Topics ranged from the need to tell stories about Black women in the South who often struggle to access safe, legal abortion to the emotional toll many Black woman carry. The panelists also discussed how to humanize women of color on screen so that they’re not just defined by their race and gender.
“I believe art is supposed to instigate change and move the conversation forward,” said Chinonye Chukwu, director of the film Clemency, featuring Alfre Woodard and Danielle Brooks, which premiered at Sundance. “I’m interested in creating unique, engaging stories with Black women at the center that are navigating stories and arcs that are about more than just their race and gender.”
“I’ve always been concerned with Black women and reproductive rights. I’m also interested in voting rights and immigration — these issues are all intertwined,” said filmmaker Dawn Porter. “It was important to me to humanize the experience of Black women as well as low-income women seeking reproductive health care while filming TRAPPED. As a filmmaker, you’re the vehicle from which that truth emerges.”
Guests at the event wore “Protect X” buttons to raise awareness about the Trump administration’s proposed gag rule, which would make it illegal for doctors and nurses across the country to tell their patients how or where to access abortion, and is designed to prevent patients from getting preventive health care like cancer screenings and birth control at Planned Parenthood health centers. The rule would essentially dismantle Title X, the nation’s program for affordable birth control and reproductive health care, which helps ensure that people who are struggling to make ends meet can still access birth control, STI testing, cancer screenings, and more. Four million people a year rely on the program — and more than 40 percent get their health care through Planned Parenthood.
The majority of patients in the Title X program identify as people of color, Hispanic, or Latino, and it’s impossible to separate this attack on their health care from the other attacks this administration has leveled on people of color with low incomes — such as the “public charge” rule, voter suppression, and attempts to “defund” Planned Parenthood.
Planned Parenthood is proud to work closely with arts and entertainment leaders — including film, television, and video professionals — to help develop stories that center people of color and content that is accurate and sensitive in its depictions of sexual and reproductive health. Through more realistic and honest portrayals of people’s lives, the entertainment community can help challenge stigma and change the conversation on issues like abortion, birth control, and sexually transmitted infections.
Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care 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. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives.