'Trapped': Sundance Review

Trapped still 1 - H 2016
Courtesy of Sundance Institute
A timely doc.

This doc depicts the struggle of Southern abortion clinics under attack by conservative state legislatures.

Abortion clinics face a do-or-die year with a potential reversal of Roe v. Wade on the high court's calendar. Yet those clinics are already under siege, particularly in Southern states, where pro-life legislation is being passed to "regulate" them out of business. These laws have been dubbed TRAP laws (Targeted Regulations of Abortion); their function has been to deluge abortion clinics with burdensome red tape and legal strictures, which render them operationally dead. In the last five years, 288 TRAP laws have been passed by state legislatures.

This documentary probe into the legislative harassment that abortion clinics face from the legislatures in such states as Alabama and Mississippi is, admittedly, "preaching to the choir" at a liberal-leaning festival like Sundance, where it just premiered. 

But filmmaker Dawn Porter makes her case for the support of such clinics in crisp, incisive fashion. Mixing interviews with the staffs of the surviving clinics with heartbreaking accounts of botched, private abortions, Trapped is a succinct and heart-rending revelation of this complex and controversial subject. Most strikingly, it puts human faces on a social and personal issue that has been often engulfed by the invective surrounding it.

As the days approach the upcoming Supreme Court ruling, Trapped's timeliness will give sustenance to this film's own shelf-life.

Obscured Pictures

Cast: June Ayers, Gloria Gray, Dalton Johnson, Nancy Northrup, Willie Parker, Marva Sadler

Director: Dawn Porter

Screenwriters: Dawn Porter, Sari Gilman

Producer: Marilyn Ness

Cinematographers: Nadia Halligan, Chris Hilleke

Editor: Sari Gilman


No rating, 83 minutes