At the world premiere screening of “After Tiller,” a Sundance competition documentary about the last four doctors in the United States who continue to perform third-trimester abortions, the festival has increased security measures. While a Summit County Sheriff’s officer stood guard in the entry way of Park City’s Temple Theater, five men searched bags and performed full-body scans of entering audience members. Two other members of the Sheriff’s department were posted in the back hallways of the theater. According to festival staffers, the extra security measures are due to the physical presence of the film’s controversial subjects, who are scheduled to attend the screening.
After the film, the filmmakers were invited to the front of the house, and were greeted with a standing ovation. Clearly, the film had won over audiences. When the four doctors who appeared in the film joined the directors, the audience enthusiastically embraced them.
I reviewed the film for Screen Daily. Here are some excerpts.
“A sympathetic portrait of the last four remaining doctors in America that provide third-term abortions—and the women who seek their services—After Tiller presents its extremely divisive and controversial subject matter with remarkable sensitivity. While it won’t gain favor with the Catholic Church, this mostly straightforward documentary admirably explores the fine nuances and specifics of these physicians’ lives and the difficult decisions that they and their patients make. As one of the doctors, the grandmotherly Dr. Susan Robinson, admits under her breath, “No one wants a fucking abortion.”
“Early scenes, of crying mothers, clinging at tissues, wracked with guilt and grief, are the film’s most powerfully affective moments. The filmmakers’ cameras never show the patients, oftentimes shooting over their shoulders, focusing instead on the doctors’ sympathetic faces. While the aesthetic choice may have been for privacy purposes, the result is powerfully restrained, avoiding what could have appeared melodramatic or exploitive.”