“Birth Story” co-directors Sara Lamm and Mary Wigmore have both made documentaries before; Lamm directed “Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soapbox” and Wigmore tackled Ashtanga yoga founder Sri K. Pattabni in “Ashtanga, NY.” They’re also both mothers and say that in order to take the time away from their families, a project must feel relevent and helpful. “This project felt bigger than us,” they say. “It motivated us to do the insane things we had to do in order to keep all the kid and movie balls in the air.”
What’s it’s about? “Ina May Gaskin is a counterculture heroine, author, activist, and world-famous midwife, who changed the way a generation of women thought about childbirth with her simple message: You CAN give birth.”
Who is it for? “We want people to know that this film is not just for (marvelous) pregnant ladies, it’s for the general public, especially anyone with an interest in the counterculture, natural living, women’s history, and women’s leadership… Those last two terms, ‘women’s history’ and ‘women’s leadership’ can sound kind of dry–like you are going into a school lecture–which is why it was so important to us that the film be funny and capture Ina May’s sharp wit. After a friend saw the film, we were pleased when she said that the tone was different than what she had expected. ‘Its so light and delicious, like a souffle!’ she said, which made us laugh, because who would EVER think about describing a film about childbirth like that, but we love that quote–it’s a fun and weird way to describe what we made.”
What was the biggest challenge making “Birth Story”? “It shows childbirth in an honest, unabashed way. We were committed to doing that from the beginning–to pixelate or otherwise censor the archival footage or the births we shot would have undermined the meaning of the film. But we did discuss it often: was our choice going to make it ultimately more difficult to get the film out to a wide audience? We still aren’t sure, but based on early reactions, it seems like many women are grateful to us for taking this approach–there seems to be some kind of intense cultural hunger for new kinds of stories about birth.
“We want the general public to come away with a new understanding of birth and with a viscerally powerful experience of the midwife model of care. We want women to be inspired, to feel courage, and to have confidence in their bodies’ abilities. And we want everyone to come away thinking about how much all of us can accomplish when we work together in community.”
What’s next? “After the festival our attention will go right back to our kickstarter campaign,..Sara has promised herself that she will sit down and write something to-be-determined. Mary will be busy tending to a new baby girl, who is due to arrive one week after the festival.”
Indiewire invited LAFF competition directors to tell us about their films, including what inspired them, the challenges they faced and what they’re doing next. We’ll be publishing their responses leading up to the 2012 festival. Keep checking HERE every day up to the launch for the latest profiles.