‘The Janes’ documentary filmmakers confront today’s abortion debate through a 1960s lens

One of the most talked-about films at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival, “The Janes,” is a documentary focusing on a group of Chicago women who broke the law in the late 1960s. and the early 70s. Their crime? Providing abortion services to women in need, in the years prior to the 1973 Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade overturned a law that forbade women from having the right to terminate a pregnancy.

“The Janes” director Emma Pildes and Oscar nominee Tia Lessin (“Trouble the Water” in 2008), were joined by two members of the abortion counseling service – Jane Collective, Diane Stevens and Judith Arcana, for chat moderated by TheWrap’s editor-in-chief Sharon Waxman.

Members of Jane Collective (Sundance)

From the very beginning, the documentary’s relevance to this day has been a major theme. “The right to abortion has been slow to be removed (abortion right) since 1973,” says Pildes. “If you’re paying attention, that’s not news. But it has been going at super speed since 2018. And there are milestones that have lit the fire for us to bring this movie out. ”

More proof that the abortion topic is trendy: Sundance is also showing.”Call Jane,” a film starring Elizabeth Banks as a suburban Chicago housewife in the late 1960s who seeks an abortion at Jane Collective, where she is cared for by a member played by Sigourney Weaver shoulder. (Click here to read about Waxman’s conversation with the director and cast of “Call Jane.”)

Lessin mentioned how a story from 50 years ago could resonate in 2022. “It’s a great story,” she said. “It is set against the backdrop of the tumultuous late 60s and early 70s Chicago, which was at the heart of protest and defiance at the time. And these women were incredibly courageous not only to do what they did, but to sit in front of the camera and talk about it. These are ordinary women living outlaws. What better story than that? ”

During the conversation, Stevens candidly spoke about her arrest at the age of 22. “I knew I was doing something illegal and I knew there was a potential for jail time,” she said. “When we were actually arrested, I felt I was in a much better position than some of the other women. Where I have no children, no family. But I am ready to face it.”

Arcana points out that the risk of getting caught isn’t paramount on her mind. “We have to think about the difference between law and justice,” she said. “Law is someone’s idea and if someone has the ability to make it a law that everyone has to follow, that is a problem. But that has nothing to do with how people should behave.”

She added, “Like Diane (Stevens), when we got caught, it was pretty scary. We know we are in danger. But, again, that’s not the most important thing. I know that sounds like a dream come true, but a lot of us think so. “

For more information on the documentary “The Janes,” click the full video above.

TheWrap’s Sundance Studio is presented by NFP and National Geographic Documentary Films.

https://www.thewrap.com/the-janes-sundance-video/ ‘The Janes’ documentary filmmakers confront today’s abortion debate through a 1960s lens

Curtis Crabtree

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