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Cinemapolis in Ithaca hosts first Reproductive Justice Film Festival

A pro-choice rally from the 2021 film “On the Divide”.

The first Reproductive Justice Film Festivalwill be held on Friday and Saturday at Cinemapolis in Ithaca.

Five films will be shown at the festival, including four documentaries and one narrative piece. Most have ties to the Ithaca region. Each film will be followed by talkbacks with the filmmakers.

Sue Perlgut is organizing the film festival. She directed one of the films, “Connie Cook: A Documentary”. Cook was a Republican assemblywoman in the 1960s and 70s. She played a pivotal role in the decriminalization of abortion in New York state.

Assemblywomen Connie Cook in the 1960s, discussing abortion rights for New York state. The photo is from "Connie Cook: A Documentary".

Perlgut was inspired by Cook’s impact on abortion access.

“I learned about Connie Cook and the amazing work she did, not just for abortion but for so many other things,” Perlgut said. “I was somewhat motivated by my illegal abortion, but very motivated by the person who Connie was.”

Two films in the festival were made by Ithaca College students. The 2021 film “On the Divide”, is about the last remaining abortion clinic on the Texas US-Mexico border.

Another film, “The Deciding Vote” is about George Michaels, a former assemblyman from Cayuga County, who changed his vote on New York's abortion bill from “no” to “yes”, which got the bill passed.

In addition to the films, the festival had two Zoom panels. Perlgut said the panels “Exposing Anti-Abortion Centers and Disinformation” and “Activism Across the Decades: Voices from the Feminist Frontlines” broadens the festival’s audience beyond those in Ithaca.

Perlgut hopes that the film festival’s message reaches younger audiences.

“As much as we’re involved in fighting for abortion fights, we need young people to set up and get very involved and continue fighting for their rights now that Roe v. Wade has gone away” Perlgut said.

The Reproductive Justice Film Festival is free and runs Friday and Saturday evenings.