After Roe v. Wade, which has ensured American women’s right to abortion since 1976, was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court, Amnesty International has launched a powerful global campaign to challenge the decision.
Created by ANORAK/NOA, the campaign confronts one of the fundamental truths that Americans tell themselves about their country: that they are ‘the land of the free.’ Here, in the emotionally rousing film directed by Nicolina Knapp of B-Reel Films, the U.S. national anthem becomes an elegy, a swan song for women’s rights and lack of freedom.
The film follows four different women and girls of varied circumstances, each facing the consequence of strict abortion laws: A young virginity takes a positive pregnancy test at school. A woman who was raped discovering a late pregnancy at an ultrasound. A mother struggling with three kids, expecting another. A woman has casual sex and ends up pregnant, which wasn’t at all a part of her life plan.
A stark rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” performed by Norwegian singer-songwriter Emilie Nicolas plays as the scenes depict the subject’s emotional distress, situations of powerlessness, the layers of pain, and struggle of motherhood. The end line of the song is removed – a deafening silence surrounds the word ‘free’ – the stillness imparting a chilling presence to the looming destruction of choice.
Throughout the film, Knapp creates an unsettling vision of the future that it is now possible for states to remove the right to safe and legal abortion. Through the four individual stories, Knapp creates a potent portrait that encapsulates how the removal of agency will affect millions of American women, girls, and people to decide their own future.
Given the severity of the topic, Nicolina approached the film with humility and reverence. “Cinematically, I wanted the shots to feel raw, honest and unexpected, in order to accurately depict the reality of the characters’ trauma and internal conflict,” states Nicolina. “In terms of casting, it was important that their inner-strength be palpable on screen. The core strengths that make these women stand out and carry their emotions on their sleeve; it is something you can’t always touch, but that you can sense.”
The video also includes a petition to protect the right to safe abortion in the U.S., targeting individual state governments working to expand or restrict access to abortion.