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The executive producer called it “a really hard road,” but Gosnell: The Trial of America’s Biggest Serial Killer will open in as many as 750 theaters in October through a distribution deal with GVN Releasing, the filmmakers said Tuesday.
The movie stars Dean Cain as the lead detective who pursued the case of Kermit Gosnell, the Philadelphia abortion doctor who is serving a life sentence for the murder of three infants and the involuntary manslaughter of one of his adult patients.
The film, made in 2014, is based on a grand jury report that accuses Gosnell of gruesome activities, like killing “hundreds” of “newborns” by sticking scissors into their necks. The filmmakers, though, are hoping to avoid an R-rating.
“The fanatic subject matter poses a risk,” said executive producer John Sullivan, perhaps best known for co-directing Dinesh D’Souza’s first two documentary films. “We were very careful not to make it too graphic. Gosnell saving feet of infants in jars as trophies plays a role, and you’ll see him take scissors out, but that part plays out as theater of the mind.”
The movie, directed by Nick Searcy, also explores how Gosnell got away with a crime spree that allegedly lasted for many years because bureaucrats and reporters were uninterested in investigating claims made against the doctor.
Gosnell’s trial also became a national talking point when photos of an empty press gallery began to circulate, and the filmmakers explored this phenomenon as well.
Searcy, better known as an actor than director, also plays a role in the film. “No matter what your stance is on abortion, you will have a more informed opinion after you see Gosnell,” said Searcy.
Producers Anne McElhinney and Phelim McAleer made the movie with $2.3 million raised on Indiegogo and have been trying to get it into theaters for nearly four years, with no success until now.
“It’s a story that needs to be told fairly and we’ve done just that. The cover-up stops here,” said McElhinney.
The filmmakers thought they had a distribution deal a year ago but the judge at Gosnell’s trial, Jeffrey Minehart, sued to block the release of the film, fearing he was portrayed as part of “Philadelphia’s liberal corrupt government.”
The lawsuit accused the producers of “shamelessly exploiting for profit the morally divisive issue of abortion and the notoriety of the horrific Kermit Gosnell trial, which involved a Philadelphia abortion doctor who was found guilty of grisly mass murders of fully developed in-vitro infants, some of whom were born alive.”
The legal matter was recently resolved.
After a theatrical release, GVN is also handling distribution into homes by way of DVD, Blu-ray disc and streaming deals.
“I’ve been on hard films before, but this one was particularly difficult,” said Sullivan. “Hollywood is afraid of this content. It’s a true story the media tried to ignore from the very beginning, so I wasn’t surprised to see Hollywood ignore us.”
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