Not far behind Warner Bros's "Project X" and Paramount's "A Thousand Words" at the weekend box-office, a little indie film called "October Baby" has broken out, in limited release, making over $1.7 million in ticket sales. But this is one non-Hollywood film I won't be championing. As the right-wing propaganda machine continues its war on women, "October Baby" is being used as a rallying tool for social conservatives, trying to generate further animosity for the dangerous evils of female healthcare–and oh, yeah, that operation known as an abortion.
Supported by several anti-abortion groups, such as the American Family Association, the Concerned Women of America and Bethany Christian Services, the filmmakers even promised 10% of their profits to the Every Life Is Beautiful Fund, an anti-abortion charity. "October Baby" follows the story of a troubled woman who was “the survivor of a failed abortion."
Quoting Salon critic Andrew O'Hehir, "Say what?… While the bizarre circumstances found in 'October Baby' presumably could happen in the real world, the odds are something like being struck by lightning and eaten by a shark at the same time. With a winning lottery ticket tucked in your swimsuit."
While the "left-wing media" labels the film for what it is–"a slick piece of pro-life propaganda" (thank you, Village Voice)–there are audiences out there lapping it up. Which is kind of scary.
Unless, I guess, you're distributor Samuel Goldwyn Films, who I would hope might feel a little queasy about supporting the anti-abortion cause.
Goldwyn has had some history wringing box-office success from the right-wing: 2008's "Fireproof," the Kirk Cameron Christian fireman movie, is one of the company's top grossing films of all time. But "Fireproof" was just a moralist melodrama; "October Baby" is explicitly being used to influence policy. The directors first released the film in Mississippi in response to the controversial "Personhood Amendment," which would have declared life begins at fertilization.
And as the Los Angeles Times reported, "the film's website carries links to an array of anti-abortion material, including an interview with one of the film's costars, who had an abortion as a young woman. There are also pre-written sermons, one concluding, 'If we understand the sanctity of life as God presents it in scripture, from the time a person is a cell to when he becomes a child of God, is all applause to God.'"
According to Indiewire, Samuel Goldwyn will be expanding the film to new markets on April 13th.