After Tiller

 

After Tiller

Cinematography by Hillary Spera

Film Editing: Greg O’Toole

Music: Andy Cabic & Eric D. Johnson

Sound: Peter Levin & Barbara Parks 

Produced by Martha Shane & Lana Wilson

Directed by Martha Shane & Lana Wilson

USA Theatrical Release, September 2013

 

Featuring:

Dr. George Tiller

Dr. Warren Hern

Dr. Sheley Sella

Dr. LeRoy Carhart

Dr. Susan Cathart


Studio:

Theatrical: Artemis Media Ventures & Belle Max Productions

Video: Oscilloscope Labs

 

Video:

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 480i

Feature size: 4.58 GB

Bit Rate: High (ca. 8.5 Mbps)

Runtime: 87 min

Chapters: 15

Region: All

 

Audio

English Dolby Digital 2.0

 

Subtitles

Optional English

 

Extras:

- Interview with filmmakers Martha Shane and Lana Wilson (14:10)

- One of Four - interview with Dr. Susan Robinson (16:15)

- In-depth interview with Dr. George Tiller from Physicians for Reproductive Health (24:30)

- Sundance Film Festival Q&A with the filmmakers and doctors (20:30)

- Downloadable educational guide - a resource for individuals and organizations who want to use the film as a conversation starter.

 

Presentation:

Custom Gatefold Case

Release Date: May 13, 2014


 

Synopsis [Oscilloscope]

AFTER TILLER intimately explores the highly controversial subject of third-trimester abortions in the wake of the 2009 assassination of practitioner Dr. George Tiller. The procedure is now performed by only four doctors in the United States, all former colleagues of Dr. Tiller, who risk their lives every day in the name of their unwavering commitment toward their patients. Directors Martha Shane and Lana Wilson have created a moving and unique exploration of one of the most incendiary topics of our time, and they’ve done so in an informative, thought-provoking, and compassionate way.


                          

 

The Movie : 8

Critical Reaction:

Village Voice

If Americans have grown more conservative on abortion, it's a good bet the trucks have something to do with it. If you've seen them you'll never forget them: white vans or delivery vehicles plastered with grisly photos of red, pulpy tissue, clots of dead life distinguished with rough drafts of fists and eyes and a heart-sickening human aspect. No single image in After Tiller can compete on that gut-punch level. But, as a whole, Martha Shane and Lana  Wilson's wrenching, humane film is as convincing a brief as I can imagine in favor of that most controversial of all pregnancy-terminating procedures: third-trimester abortions, which today are performed by only four American doctors.


                          


The film is warm and scrupulous, like a sunny women's clinic. It devotes little time to Operation Rescue types, focusing instead on doctors and patients, but we do hear one zealot insist that a great victory was won in Kansas the Sunday morning that Tiller was gunned down at church—that God had wiped abortion from the city with a murder. For all their courageous resilience, the doctors and their staff often seem understandably shaken. . . the directors introduce us to patients and allow us to eavesdrop on their stories. This is a rare intimacy. Only viewers holding to the ideal that life is absolutely holy, no matter its quality, will not feel moved by what these women and men have endured here in the real world—and respect for their agonized decision.  – Alan Scherstuhl


                          

 

San Francisco Chronicle

"After Tiller" doesn't take long to enter incendiary territory, as we see Dr. George Tiller's wrapped body being removed from a Wichita, Kansas, church, where he was shot and killed in 2009 for performing third-trimester abortions at his clinic. That could have easily been a documentary in itself, but filmmakers Martha Shane and Lana Wilson take the story in a more interesting - and thought-provoking - direction: profiling the only four doctors in the country who still openly offer the controversial third-trimester procedures (opposed by many on both sides of the abortion debate). . . what makes this well-edited film compelling are the stories of the patients and the agonizing moral quandaries that the doctors express in doing their work. These heartbreaking, emotionally charged scenes, particularly the ones involving doctors Susan Robinson and Shelley Sella, are handled with sensitivity and restraint.


                          


Although it's clear that the filmmakers want to focus on the physicians and steer clear of an abortion debate, a few outside voices would have helped, particularly from medical ethicists who might question what these abortion doctors do. Instead, we see news footage of abortion protesters and snippets of fundamentalists who keep vigil at the various clinics - not exactly the gray area in which most of this film excels. At the end of the day, though, thanks to the moral complications expressed by the abortion doctors and patients, this movie gives us more than enough room to help weigh these issues on our own terms. – David Lewis


                          

 

Image: ~9

An excellent transfer by Oscilloscope thanks in large part to good photography and color timing by the filmmakers. It’s always nice to have a good source to start with. No edge enhancement, noise reduction or other transfer anomalies that I could see. Of course, some of the footage is sourced from archival news video that can be spotty, but the great majority of the movie is very pleasing as can be seen in these screen captures.


                          

 

Audio & Music: 8/7

The dialogue and ambient sounds are well balanced with the occasional music score. As it should be there is nothing that brings attention to itself.

 

Extras: 8

There are four segments, comprising about 75 minutes total. The descriptions pretty much speak for themselves, though I feel I must comment on a personal annoyance I have with “interviews” that have no interviewers: Filmmakers Martha Shane and Lana Wilson simply talk to an unseen, mute whoknowswhat off-axis. Lazy filmmaking which doesn’t speak well of Shane & Wilson. Drives me nuts.


There are quarter of an hour interviews with co-directors Martha Shane and Lana Wilson and another with one of the four doctors,Dr. Susan Robinson. There is also an extended segment with Dr. George Tiller from Physicians for Reproductive Health, and a twenty minute Sundance Film Festival Q&A with the filmmakers and doctors.


                          

 

Recommendation: 8

This release is one of those video’s that qualifies as a “must watch” because of its subject matter and ability to generate discussion but not necessarily a “must buy.” Taking it on its merits as a documentary, the filmmakers’ focus is narrow but fair, in that while it does not present interviews with the “opposing view - rather it lets their slogans, news headlines and acts speak for themselves - the four doctors, especially Shelley Sella, reveal their personal questioning of their role in ending life before it has much of a chance to begin. My feeling was that these doctors are better spokesmen for the other view than those who start and stop with “Murderer!”  Although I bristled every time one of the doctors would say that they were carrying on Dr. Tiller’s work - it always had a tinge of cult worship about it. I don’t find it a persuasive argument or even a motivation to do the kind of work they do. As for the filmmakers, they have a clear point of view and they don’t mind “stooping” to metaphor (by editing, image and music cues, ad what we don’t see as well as what we do) to make it. The picture quality, other than “newsreel footage” is spot on, the audio is clear and the bonus features very fine, as far as they go.


                          


Leonard Norwitz

© LensViews

May 14, 2014


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