At the first Sundance Film Festival since Roe v. Wade tilted, documentaries about how we got to this point and how we’re dealing with it are all the rage. Doug Liman’s “Justice” garnered a lot of attention for its investigation into sexual harassment allegations against Supreme Court associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh, whose nomination to the Court ultimately tipped the ideological balance to the right. But the present and future of the abortion rights movement is of equal historical significance, and that’s where “Plan C” comes into play.
Tracy Droz Tragos’s documentary about the distribution of abortion drugs by mail paints a critical picture of how some women have adapted to this new reality. At the IndieWire Studio at Sundance, presented by Dropbox, Tragos talked about the unique historical moment that led him to make a film about a type of abortion that few people know about.
“When Kavanaugh was appointed to the Supreme Court, it looked like the writing was on the wall that Roe was going to fall. And I started looking into what people were doing to prepare,” Tragos said. “I saw people taking abortion pills in a clinic. But the idea that people could have this in their homes and self-management was a paradigm shift. But this was 2018 and I thought it would never happen. Then when COVID hit, everything changed.”
Tragos explained that a large percentage of Americans do not fully understand the effects of anti-abortion drugs, often confusing them with contraceptives, which have very different purposes.
“The reality is that not many people know there is an abortion drug,” he said. “The FDA has approved it since 2000, in France before that and in other countries before that. It has been around for a long time. But it was restricted by the FDA, and many people still think of it as emergency contraception, a Plan B. But this is Plan C.”
Making a film like this isn’t without its risks, and that’s even before tackling the usual challenges of shooting an independent documentary during a pandemic. But Tragos explained that his subjects’ bravery inspired him to push through the ordeal and finish the film.
“It’s hard to be an independent filmmaker and make a movie by yourself,” he said. “Then making a film about abortion is difficult.” It is difficult to raise the funds, it is difficult to get support for it. But when I started following these brave people, I felt, “I must be brave.” At least I have to meet them where they are. So despite all the obstacles… shooting during COVID, which is a crap show. Sometimes we have to protect people, which is very difficult, but I’m glad we got rid of it now. It was urgent and I couldn’t ignore it.”
“Plan C” will premiere at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival.
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