Film spotlights abortion taboos

September 20, 2017 - 09:00

The eighth German Film Festical closed in the central province of Đà Nẵng on Saturday. Nine films were screened in cities througbhout Việt Nam, including the opening and closing movies, 23 weeks and Millennials

Director and actress Anne Zohra Berrached.
Viet Nam News


The eighth German Film Festival has closed in the central province of Đà Nẵng. Nine films were screened in big cities throughout Việt Nam, including the opening festival movies, 24 Weeks and Millennials.

The movies featured Anne Zohra Berrached as film director and leading actress. Born in 1982 in Erfurt, East Germany, Berrached won a degree in social education, with a focus on psycholgoy. Then she worked as a drama teacher in London for two years. She began to study directing at the Film Academy in Baden-Wurttemberg. In her third year, she completed her first feature film, Two Mothers

The movie premiered worldwide at the 63rd International Film Festival in Berlin in 2013. Her second feature film 24 Weeks also premiered at the Berlinale in 2016. It received 16 international awards, including Best Director and Silver Lola Award. 

Director Berrached spoke about her films in Hà Nội, HCM City and Đà Nẵng. 

Is it accident that you made movies Two Mothers and 24 Weeks about maternity and did you know why both of them were shown at the Berlinale Film Festival?

It was by chance. I just wanted to tell truthful stories through film. The Berlinale festival raises political and social issues. My movies also raise social concern.

24 Weeks, which has won international awards, was chosen to open the German film festival in Hà Nội. Could you tell me more about it?

I remember that after a movie show in Germany, when I went on stage a woman yelled: "The movie popularises abortion." Many in the audience applauded her. I explained that I was an artist and had the right to make a film about everything in society. The movie does not popularise abortion. It is a story of a couple who face late abortion because their child will not be born healthy. 

24 Weeks uses real doctors and medical providers in the cast. I wrote the script within one year and I went to meet obstetricians and couples who had problem with unborn children. I interviewed them with a tape recorder. I wanted to make the movie in documentary style. I also shot real doctors carrying out research. The movie doesn’t only reflect the fact that 90 per cent of expectant German mothers with unhealthy babies decide to abort late, but also conveys my message. 

I wanted to make the movie to help people know more about what pregnant women and their families and friends think about late abortion. 

Prenatal testing is a national programme in Việt Nam because many women feel secure about their babies. What about in Germany?

In Germany, abortion after the 24th week is a taboo subject. That is why I made this movie for people to discuss. And people are still discussing it. I don’t aim to change government policies, but I want women to have the right to make decisions. Women who abort after three months usually feel guilty. Throughout the movie, I want them to feel liberated to make decisions on their own. Actually, no women want to lose her child. 

Will your message be conveyed to women in Asian countries where some abortion is illegal?

The movie is received in different ways because of cultural differences in various countries. Europeans are allowed to express their opinions. In South Korea, people receive the movie more carefully.

I think we should support women who have no rights to make their own decisions. I was once asked by a reporter why I let the wife in the movie make the decision, not her husband.

The woman bears her child in her womb and she needs to be a decision maker. I cannot imagine a man having the right to decide on abortion. I don’t support late abortion, but I support a woman’s right to make her own decision. — VNS