Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg bring the powerful and powerfully divisive abortion debate to Netflix on September 13. The landmark 1973 US Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade is 45 years old — and with the Supreme Court balance shifting ever more toward conservative leanings, the ruling is “once again at a crossroads” according to Netflix. (And according to anybody else paying attention, especially in light of Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s emergence.) Stern and Sundberg track the long, fraught journey of Roe, checking in with everyone from feminist icon Gloria Steinem to National Right to Life president Carol Tobias.
Stern and Sundberg have previously told the devastating story of the Darfur genocide in The Devil Comes on Horseback, and they took on the horror of the Boston Marathon bombing — somehow revivifying a much-told story with a fresh and deeply painful look in their film Marathon: The Patriot’s Day Bombing. In Boston that day 260 were injured and 17 people lost limbs — but it is the casual heroism of those who helped during and after the calamity that stands out in the Stern/Sundberg film.
Reversing Roe, depending on which side you’re on (and how passionate your stand is), is also filled with heroes. But here some are heroes the other side thinks are plainly villains. Brilliantly capturing this, Reversing Roe captures the very soul of this complex issue where common ground is destined forever to be a mirage.
NOTE: If you want to see these filmmakers with lighter, though certainly still profound subject matter, check out their film Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work about the late Joan Rivers, comedian and groundbreaker.