Abortion: Stories Women Tell

File_001 (5) Review by Carla Renata for UBNRadio.com and The CurvyFilm Critic.com

As the child of a military family, we traveled for most of my life.  However, in between moves, we always went back "home".  Home for me is St, Louis, Missouri.  Both of my parents were born and raised there.  My relatives on my maternal and paternal side still live there.  I went to the prom, fell in love for the first time, had my first date, learned to drive, got my first job, became a beauty queen and attended my first college...all in the state of Missouri.

My memories are vast and fond of my life there.  However, as magical and warm the memories are that I have growing up in Missouri, I also remember Missouri for being one of the most racist states in the union.  Some residents of the state can be so full of judgement that some of my friends growing up there who were gay knew that "outing" themselves was never an option.  To do so would result in isolation from friends and family and being labeled and attacked,  Being a young, gifted and black was not celebrated.  To the point, that in 2016,  we are still witnessing young men like Michael Brown being harassed, shot and murdered.

Patient sitting on hospital bed waiting

Needless to say, when I learned of the documentary Abortion:  Stories Women Tell screening at the Tribeca Film festival around Missouri becoming one of the many states to make abortion illegal, I was not surprised.  I was, however, extremely annoyed.

In 1973 the US Supreme court decision Roe Vs. Wade gave every woman the right to have an abortion. Since 2011, over half the states in the nation have significantly restricted access to abortions. In 2016, abortion remains one of the most divisive issues in America, especially in Missouri, where each year sees more restrictions.

Award winning director and Missouri native Tracy Droz Tragos sheds new light on this controversial  issue, with a focus not on the debate, but rather on the women themselves. Women who are struggling with unplanned pregnancies, the providers who show up at clinics to give medical care, as well as the activists on the sidewalks hoping to save one more child.

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Abortion: Stories Women Tell portrays an intimate portrait into the lives of these women through their personal stories, which come to life brilliantly, through the gentle and respectful approach by director Tragos.   Some are heartbreaking and tender, some are bleak and frightening, while others simply inform us of the strength and capacity of young women to overcome and persevere through often-tragic circumstances.  Take a listen to a recent interview I did with Tracy about her doc...

[audio mp3="https://carlarenatascorner.files.wordpress.com/2016/05/tracydrozetragos_abortionstories.mp3"][/audio]

Abortion:  Stories Women Tell also shows us how organizations like Planned Parenthood are being targeted for abortion procedures and allegedly accused  of selling fecal organs for medical testing.  My newly divorced mother (who is also a Registered Nurse) took me to Planned Parenthood as a teen to be educated on birth control and the services provided to young girls like me.  That Planned Parenthood location on Lindell Avenue in St. Louis has been shut down and the nearest location  is two hours away in Columbia, Missouri.

With young girls being sexually active as early as 10 years old, where will those mothers who don't take their daughters to be educated?  Especially now, that sex education has been slowly forced out of the public school system.

I employ each and every one of you reading this to think of all these concerns and facts as your state contemplates making a decision that affects thousands if not millions of American women.

Watch for this powerful doc to show up on HBO, but if you can't wait until then it had its theatrical release August 12th..  You will angered, educated,  but most of all moved to make a difference.


TFF 2016: Children of the Mountain

img_4942 Review by Carla Renata for UBNRadio.com and CarlaRenatasCorner.com


It's unfortunate that we live in a world where when you are different or special, that characteristic is not always celebrated or looked upon positively.

As we complete a weekend where the world has lost one of the most different voices in the music industry ever (PRINCE), it suffices to say that being different is sometimes the greatest gift one can be given.

In Ghana, Africa and with most men around the world, nothing pleases them more than having a son to carry on the family name.  They take great pride in that accomplishment.  However, when a that same child is born with a deformity, it is seen as a curse and the woman carrying the child is blamed for the unfortunate circumstances.


Priscilla Anany, the writer/director/producer  in her cinematic debut of the Tribeca Film Festival  Jury winning film "Children of the Mountain" is a cinematic and storytelling genius!  Often times with these types of films, we see the after effects of a deformity from only the point of view of the child.  Very rarely is the story mostly focused on the mother and her mental state under such a painful and emotionally challenging time.  The guilt, shame, disappointment is usually always played under the surface, but Anany hangs this mother's feelings out in the yard like laundry drying on a line in the hot summer heat.


As many of  you know who read my blog, I watch hundreds of films and attend a multitude of film festivals, but this film right here had me in the ugly cry and I literally had to pull myself together before sitting down to pen my thoughts.

There is nothing worse than loving someone unconditionally only to have them light your feelings up in flames for all to see and judge.  Essuman would have done anything for Edjah.  She laid with him out-of-wedlock, had his child and still believed that he would come back and be her family.

Essuman (Rukeyat Masud) is having an affair with Edjah (Adjetey Anang) when she finds herself pregnant.  When the child is born with a cleft palate and multiple sclerosis, Essuman struggles to find clarity and peace while attempting to obtain healing for Nuku from spiritual leaders, medicine men and hospitals after being abandoned by his father.


It's only when he calls the baby a monster, blames her and literally dismisses any feelings she might have that she slips into a deep depression resulting in the unthinkable.  postpartum depression is real and will make a woman react in a way that she never sees coming. Fortunately, she finds love again and her future suddenly doesn't seem so bleak and unlivable.

Every single actor in this film turns in breathtaking performances to where I forgot I was watching actors in a performance.  Anany's writing is so poignant and realistic that it draws you into the story from the first frame.  I, for one can't wait to see what she does next and hopefully have the opportunity to work alongside her.

To find out more about where to see ChildreN of the MountaiN, you can go to www.facebook.com/childreNofthemountaiN