After Tiller

PBS Premiere: Sept. 1, 2014Check the broadcast schedule »

Film Update

In September 2014, POV asked After Tiller co-director Martha Shane what's happened since the cameras stopped rolling.

How has the film been received?

The response to the film has been really positive. What we hear most often, from people on both sides of the abortion issue, is that the film made them realize that this is so much more complicated than they had ever imagined. Regardless of people's politics, our hope is that the film will push people to think more deeply about their opinions on this issue--and to consider the real-life situations of the doctors and patients, rather than focusing on abstractions--and we've been thrilled to see that happening.

Have there been any responses to the film that surprised you?

After screenings of the film, we were pleasantly surprised by how civil and respectful the discussions and Q&As would be! Often, there were people who had a wide range of views on the issue in the audience, but in stark contrast to the tone of most debates on television news and the Internet, people were able to present their reactions to the film calmly and respectfully. The tone of the film is very quiet, and it's very observational, so I think that people who watched the film responded strongly to that. We were also grateful to see that some factions of the anti-abortion movement, including the Pro-Life Action League, recommended that "every pro-lifer see this film." For us, we're really thrilled when people on both sides of this issue take the time to see the film.

How has the film impacted the doctors? Where are they now?

The doctors were present at our Sundance premiere of the film, and it was really moving to see them receiving so much positive attention and gratitude from audiences, since they have so often been the targets of protests and threats. While Dr. Carhart and Dr. Hern had already done a fair amount of media (television interviews, etc.) when we started filming, Dr. Robinson and Dr. Sella had never done any press, and it's been amazing to see them start speaking out more about their work in the media and/or at screenings of the film. All the doctors are incredibly eloquent and thoughtful about the work that they do, so we're always glad to see them being part of this conversation.

What are you working on next?

Lana is directing a new film, Last Call, that goes inside the life of a remarkable Zen Buddhist priest in Japan who is combating the suicide problem there, showing how people can inspire each other to survive. I (Martha) am directing a film about a tiny town in upstate New York that was swindled by two alleged con artists who worked in the film industry — it's a bit like a documentary Music Man. And I'm producing a film currently titled Where the Marsh Meets the Lake, about the director's family — her father came out as a woman when she was in middle school, and then stayed with her mother, so it's an exploration of how that love survived.