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by Karen Pecota

Film festivals generate all types of submissions a year prior to a designated festival both in documentary and narrative form—shorts and feature length. At times, there will be more than one film with the same theme and more-than-not these films will showcase during the same yearly festival. Certain topics have anniversaries, or there is a new cultural phenomenon that warrants more opinions within a festival program—factual and/or fiction with a different twist or emphasis of presentation.

Kim Yutani, Sundance Film Festival Director of Programming comments on the broader trends and themes her team noticed this year: "We don't intentionally program to the themes, but we're very attended to the submissions we're getting year after year. Films speak to each other, to the cultural moment and to audiences." She continues, "Just to address some of the trends and connections we saw within the work this year—we saw a lot of work that addresses the current state of the environment, climate politics." Adding, “We also noticed a lot of films around reproductive rights: THE JANES, CALL JANE,THE HAPPENING, and AFTERSHOCK." In addition, "We saw films that deal with injustice especially from the viewpoint of people of color and women: 892, GOD’S COUNTRY, PHOENIX RISING, and NOTHING COMPARES.”

As the U.S. Supreme Court is being confronted with the possibility of overturning Roe v. Wade and with more states proposing legislation to ban women's abortion rights, two films appeared on the Sundance 2022 program list garnering attention: a feature narrative, CALL JANEand a documentary, THE JANES.

Screening both films and attending every Q&A and event that covered both films, I was impressed with everyone who gave an account of the story.

I screened the feature film first, CALL JANEwhich gave me the background of the group, I later screened the documentary, THE JANES featuring the real group members, along with a detailed account of the timeline of their existence which brought clarification of their purpose and mission. The real Janes' jobs ended when abortion was legalized. And, as quietly as they appeared, each member of The Janes quietly slipped back into society pursuing other careers.

These two films should not be missed if you want to enlarge your knowledge of U.S. history in the fight for women's rights, the right of the unborn child, and the current controversy we find ourselves entangled in as a nation.