We talk with Kate Gorman, the director of The Face of Birth film, to find out how it was made and the impression it has left.
The Down Under Berlin Film Festival’s special screenings throughout the year like to bring a wide variety of films to Berlin, not only to show off gorgeous down under but to celebrate the talent and bring to light issues that are prevalent in the country today.
The next screening is the Australian birth documentary The Face of Birth by Kate Gorman and Gavin Banks. This film is hitting all the right notes at the moment because the issues that have been felt in Australia in the last few years, regarding indemnity insurance for midwives attending home births, is also one felt in the midwifery profession in Germany.
Down Under Berlin blog spoke with filmmaker Kate Gorman to discuss what the film has done for home birth in Australia and why it needed to be made.
DUB: What compelled you to make this film in the first place?
“I had my second baby in the UK at home, in the water, with a team of midwives all offered by the NHS – 4 years later back in Australia when I was pregnant again, I was wanting to have another home birth and found that it was about to become illegal to do so. I felt I had to do something to bring awareness to a woman’s right to choose place and birth and birthday practitioner. I teamed up with Gavin Banks another filmmaker who had wanted to make a film about home birth for a few years. Together we embarked on a three-year journey to make the film.”
DUB: What has the reaction from audiences been?
“Absolutely amazing. Our audience is 70% people already aware of the issue – mothers, midwives, and other birth professionals. For them, it was a call to action and finally someone giving voice to issue and possible solution. For many mothers, it was having their story (a story just like theirs) finally told. And for those yet to have children – they found it eye opening, informative and moving. We really want everyone to be informed about choice and risk.”
After The Face of Birth’s independent release in 2011 in Australia and New Zealand, positive shifts began to occur in the industry; lobbying groups in the country were using the film to strengthen their voice on the subject, every member of the heath department and cabinet now own their own copy of the film, plus 2 universities in Australia are using the group of three Face Of Birth films as part of their curriculum and every university library in Australia had a copy on their shelves.
For the midwives, a few months after the film’s release, independent midwives were able to register to be a Medicare provider for antenatal and postnatal care and several hospitals started homebirth programs.
“There is still a way to go,” Kate says “but there has been a small positive shift.”
The Face of Birth has sold 7000 copies and had 100’s of downloads. The other two films in the series, Meet the Experts and Birth Stories, meet the mothers have sold over 3000 copies, which is a great success for an independently released documentary.
DUB: Where else around the world have you had screenings and discussions?
“The film has been most successful in Australia where it was shown in over 100 screens across the country in its initial release. The film was then released nationwide in New Zealand. The film has been translated into 17 languages and shown around the world, mostly in the EU. We sell DVD’s to new far-reaching places every week as sadly this is an issue around the world, but the film is helping to inform and empower women everywhere.”
“We are very proud of the far-reaching effect the film has had. We want to remove the culture of fear from birth a replace it with true women-centered care and believe every woman has the right to informed choice.”
Come to Moviemento Kino on Sunday, July 9 at 3 pm to watch the film and then enjoy a moderated discussion directly after with members of the birth industry in Berlin. Follow the event onDUB’s Facebook event’s page for updated news, and also check out The Face Of Birth on Facebook.
It should be a very interesting afternoon – so, we’ll you at the movies!
Charmaine Gorman is an Australian actress and writer living in Berlin with her family. As a content writer and editor, she works for many clients around the world, and along with her husband, is the founder and content manager of the online travel guide My Guide Berlin.