Vessel, the new abortion documentary that takes us to sea with Dr. Rebecca Gomperts as she sails through legal loopholes to provide women with medical service to end their unwanted pregnancies, premiered at the 2014 SXSW Festival, and won a special award. We talk with filmmaker Diana Whitten and Dr. Gomperts from the 2014 festival on BYOD–the only doc talk show.
Watch new episodes of BYOD live each week on Tuesdays at noon on TheLip.TV, or tune in for the archived replay starting here on the following Thursday.
BYOD is hosted by Ondi Timoner, director of “DIG!,” “JOIN US” and “WE LIVE IN PUBLIC,” and has the rare distinction of winning the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance twice. Each week the show explores a different documentary filmmaker or aspect of filmmaking, with special guests and a live Q&A– diving deep into creative process and the business realities of producing and distributing films. Ondi shares her insider views, opinions, and personal stories, welcoming audience participation. BYOD aims to entertain, inform, and elevate documentaries in general by bringing attention to films and film makers that deserve exposure.
VESSEL – A fearless sea captain sails a ship through loopholes in international law, providing abortions on the high seas, and leaving in her wake a network of emboldened activists who trust women to handle abortion on their own terms.
Dr. Rebecca Gomperts sails a ship around the world, providing abortions at sea for women with no legal alternative. Her idea begins as flawed spectacle, faced with governmental, religious, and military blockade. But with each roadblock comes a more refined mission, until Rebecca realizes she can use new technologies to bypass law – and train women to give themselves abortions using WHO-researched protocols with pills. From there we witness her create an underground network of emboldened, informed activists who trust women to handle abortion themselves. “Vessel” is Rebecca’s story: one of a woman who hears and answers a calling, and transforms a wildly improbable idea into a global movement.
Diana Whitten is a filmmaker with a decade of professional film/TV direction, production and design experience, including work on shorts and features appearing in over 25 international film festivals. A graduate of Tufts (BA), the School of the Museum of Fine Arts (BFA), and the New School (MA), she was a Fulbright Fellow to Indonesia in 2000, founded Sovereignty Productions in 2008, and was the Director of Communications at Ford Foundation International Fellowships Program. This is her first feature film.
Rebecca Gomperts, founder and director of Women on Waves, studied medicine and visual arts in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. After graduating Gomperts became an abortion doctor and sailed as a ship’s doctor with the environmental activist Greenpeace ship, the Rainbow Warrior. While sailing in South America, she was first exposed to women who suffered greatly due to lack of access to reproductive health services and safe, legal abortions. These women and their stories inspired Rebecca to start Women on Waves. She has won numerous awards for her work with Women on Waves, including the “Allan Rosenfield Award for Lifetime Contributions to International Family Planning” by the Society of Family Planning (2012), the “Global Women’s Rights Award” from the Feminist Majority Foundation (2007), the “Rosie Jimenez Award from the Women’s Medical Fund” (2005), and Planned Parenthood’s “Margaret Sanger Woman of Valor Award” (2004) and “Women Making History Award” (2002). She was named one of Women Deliver’s “Top 100 most inspiring people delivering for girls and women” (2011), one of the “1000 Peace Women for the Nobel Prize” (2005) and “Woman of the Year” by Ms. Magazine (2001).