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“South Dakota,” an abortion “dramumentary.”

“South Dakota,” an abortion “dramumentary.” (photo)

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The history of abortion on-screen is short and inglorious: for the most part, it doesn’t exist, rejected out-of-hand as a viable option, since its presence would automatically turn any film polemical.

But it’s not like there’s a shortage of information, impassioned views and propaganda on the subject widely available from both sides of the aisle. So why did almost 1,000 L.A.-area high school girls have to be bussed into Westwood one October morning to watch “South Dakota: A Woman’s Right To Choose”?

As the Los Angeles Times reports, administrators of four Catholic schools and 11 public ones signed off to have their charges watch a supposedly impartial documentary on the subject.

Of course, not explicitly stating “ABORTION = DEATH” doesn’t mean there’s not a viewpoint being promulgated. “South Dakota: A Woman’s Right To Choose” is an uneasy mix of documentary interview and (judging by the trailer anyway) bathetic narrative — “dramumentary,” per first-time director Bruce Isacson. And the film sort of outs itself in terms of where it stands with its chosen company. It’s being pushed by Motive Marketing, who’ve done grass-roots campaigns to rally evangelicals (quite successfully) to “The Passion of the Christ,” Ben Stein’s quietly profitable (and vile) anti-evolution screed “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed,” and others.

“South Dakota”‘s executive producer Howard Kazanjian is on the record as not caring about “making money”; Focus on the Family’s James Dobson has seen it, while screenings for the pro-choice camps remain tenuous. And the finale’s depiction of a girl fleeing an abortion clinic in terror because of the horrendous conditions and staff apparently outdoes “Juno” for sheer caricature.

Why have all these administrators essentially signed off to help jump-start a marketing campaign? In the video of the screening — the same one the Times is reporting on — you can quite clearly hear someone informing the teen girls that the film’s due for release next year, which simply isn’t true; as the article states, the film is looking for but well may not receive distribution outside of the church-group kind.

12072009_lakeoffire.jpgI don’t really care what the Catholic schools are doing, since it’s their money and judgment. But is the L.A. public school system’s sex ed system so benighted and underfunded that something/anything that can tackle an issue is to be embraced with open arms? I suppose classroom viewings of Tony Kaye’s “Lake of Fire” — a film that more than balances its copious footage of vitriolic, homicidal anti-abortion protesters with graphic aborted fetus footage– are out of the question. But still: it would appear that, in the name of “discussion,” a bunch of teenage girls were just shipped off by their schools to be raw grassroots marketing meat for an evangelical-targeted film.

So, indie documentarians, get to it. Do you have an opinion on something controversial, no matter how inane or ill-conceived? (Aside: Reenactments? This is how we tackle one of the nation’s most instantly divisive social/ethical/legal problems? With some Cranberries songs and a “Veronica Mars” cast member?) Film it, then head over to L.A., where apparently no one’s actually paying attention to what they’re signing off on. If only the makers of “Life Is Hot In Cracktown” had known this…

[Photo: “South Dakota: A Woman’s Right To Choose,” Lionheart Movies, 2009; “Lake of Fire,” THINKFilm, 2007]

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.

Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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GIFs via Giphy

Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.


Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…


IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.


IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).


IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.


IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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