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Event Honors Creators and Artists Whose Storytelling Shifts Culture on Sexual and Reproductive Health Issues

Elaine Welteroth, Eliza Hittman, Sidney Flanigan, Ashley Williams, and More Attended the Event, in Partnership with Refinery29

L to R: Amy Emmerich, Caren Spruch, Elaine Welteroth, and Karrie Galloway Attend Planned Parenthood’s Annual Sex, Politics, Film & TV Reception at Sundance, in partnership with Refinery29, on January 26, 2020. (Credit: Planned Parenthood Federation of America)

You can download photos of the event here and here.

Park City, UT — Last night, Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) and Planned Parenthood Association of Utah held its eighth annual Sex, Politics, Film & TV reception at the Sundance Film Festival, in partnership with Refinery29. Each year, the event celebrates Planned Parenthood’s ongoing collaboration with content creators whose films and television shows accurately and authentically depict sexual and reproductive health issues.

Among the hundreds of producers, directors, writers, and actors who gathered to show their support were Eliza Hittman, Sidney Flanigan, Patricia Riggen, Ashley Williams, Chuck Neal, Kathreen Khavari, and more.

Elaine Welteroth speaks at Planned Parenthood’s annual reception at Sundance. (Credit: Planned Parenthood Federation of America)

Statement from Elaine Welteroth, award-winning journalist, author, and producer:

“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 health care 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.”

As one of the nation’s leading providers and advocates of sexual and reproductive health care and sexual education, Planned Parenthood collaborates with entertainment leaders to reduce stigma and change the conversation on sexual and reproductive health and rights. Our efforts help ensure that stories are accurate and feel authentic to people’s lived experiences. Planned Parenthood has collaborated on more than 150 projects over the years — including this year’s Sundance U.S. Dramatic competition entry Never Rarely Sometimes Always — as well as the films 20th Century Women and Obvious Child, and TV shows The DeuceJane the Virgin, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, and Glow. There has also been a recent surge in portrayals of abortion on TV, including this year’s Euphoria, Sex Education, and The Bold Type.

L to R: Caren Spruch with Sidney Flanigan, star of Never Rarely Sometimes Always, and Eliza Hittman, the film’s director (Credit: Planned Parenthood Federation of America) 

Statement from Caren Spruch, senior director of arts and entertainment engagement at Planned Parenthood Federation of America:

“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 health care. 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. I’m proud to have collaborated with so many film and television content creators over the years to produce real, honest portrayals of people’s health, sexuality, and lives, and I’m grateful for their support of Planned Parenthood.”

Statement from Amy Emmerich, president and chief content officer at Refinery 29:

“We are at a critical moment for the future of reproductive health in this country — as politicians wage an unprecedented attack on our rights and access to sexual and reproductive health care. Refinery 29 is committed to providing our audience with the information and tools they need to make informed decisions, which is why we’re so proud to be continued partners with Planned Parenthood because of their important work as a provider, educator, and advocate.

During the reception, guests enjoyed a special screening of the new short film Ours to Tellco-produced by PPFA and We Testify, an organization dedicated to the leadership and representation of people who have had abortions. Directed by Academy Award® winning director Rayka Zehtabchi (Period. End of Sentence), Ours To Tell focuses on four people who live full and empowered lives because they were free to access abortion. At a time when communities of color, LGBTQ people and many others have been denied access to abortion, and as people across the country face an unprecedented assault on the legal right to abortion, Ours to Tell shows us the world we could have — one where all people are able to access the health care they want, need, and deserve — with compassion and support. To learn more and find out what you can do, go to ourstotell.org.

In addition to the reception, Planned Parenthood is hosting the official Sundance Storytelling as Activism panel on Tuesday, January 28th at The Box at The Ray from 3:00pm – 4:30pm. Open to festival badge holders, the event will feature a screening of Ours to Tell followed by a moderated discussion led by Amy Goodman, host and executive producer of Democracy Now! Panelists include Ours to Tell director Rayka Zehtabchi; Renee Bracey Sherman, founder of We Testify; Eliza Hittman, writer and director of Sundance U.S. Dramatic Competition selection Never Rarely Sometimes Always; Janet Goldwater, writer and co-director of Abortion Helpline, This Is Lisa; and Caren Spruch, senior director of arts and entertainment engagement at Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

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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.

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Refinery29 is the leading media and entertainment destination focused on women. Through a wide spectrum of lifestyle stories, original video programming, social, shareable content, and live experiences, Refinery29 provides its global audience with the inspiration and tools to discover and pursue a more independent and informed life. Refinery29 is part of Vice Media Group, the world's largest independent youth media company.