How about 2 businesses located directly across the street from one another, competing for the same customers. The situation is a comedy stable. There are countless jokes, movie and TV plots, usually about how one owner tries to sabotage the competition.
Here in Philadelphia we have the famous cheese steak rivalry, at 9th Street and Passyunk Avenue. There you have Pat’s Steaks (The King of Steaks) vs Geno’s Steaks (The Best in S. Philly). A few years ago Geno’s got one up on Pat’s by refusing to serve anyone, ‘who doesn’t speak English.’ The controversy not only put Geno’s firmly into the redneck camp but garnered them a ton of free publicity
Only at 12th & Delaware in Fort Pierce, Florida you have an abortion clinic, and an anti-abortion center across the street, called ‘a pregnancy center,’ locked into a real life and death struggle. The new HBO documentary 12th & Delaware, documents the battle.
The film offers no narration, letting participants and events to speak for themselves. This is a technique called cinema-vérité. The intimate footage of women faced with the grim decision of whether to abort, is powerful. The filmmakers were given access to the private consultations in both abortion and anti-abortion locations. The heart wrenching dilemmas of the mostly poor young women make for compelling drama.
Cinema-vérité was popularized by Fred Wiseman, with documentary films such as High School, and Basic Training in the 1960’s and 70’s. It’s seldom used, but can be brilliant when in deft hands. Directors Heidi Ewing, and Rachel Grady, have created a tightly wound 90 minute film, that will hold your attention.
The film opened to a good reception. However, only a few critics covered it. Here’s what film reviewer Chris Barsanti said:
“The Human Rights Watch Film Festival’s opening night film came from HBO Documentary Films, showing again why they’re possibly the best producers of nonfiction film currently in the business. This powerful piece of work is by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady, whose 2006 film Jesus Camp still stands as one of the great documents of the modern evangelical movement.”
I won’t go as far as Barsanti who said, 12th and Delaware lets everyone have their say and refuses to take sides,” because I don’t believe that film can be totally objective, given the powerful tool that editing is in shaping opinion. Especially when it’s subtle. I’m assuming that Grady and Ewing fall into the pro abortion camp, because their previous film Jesus Camp was generally considered to be a critique of Fundamental Christianity. However, I’m sure that anti abortion folks will come away from the film thinking that it properly showcases their passion to stop a practice they view as murder. And the film graphically portrays the abortion foes as willing to deploy almost any method to stop it. At one point an anti-abortion counselor breaks into tears, when she learns that a young woman she briefly counseled had proceeded with her abortion.
On the other hand, the abortion foes are seen deploying methods that could be considered deceptive. They deliberately created their Pregnancy Center -storefront to lure women into confusing it with the abortion clinic across the street.
I doubt if the film will change many minds since most people already have an opinion on abortion. But the film could provide a realistic dialogue for the undecided. The issue has taken on a renewed urgency since an abortion doctor was shot while attending church by a pro-lifer, last year.
The film has an emotional impact rarely seen in documentaries, and stands as a good alternative to the usual summer fare of silly reality shows, and unrealistic dramas. It is currently showing on HBO – On Demand. in both high definition, and regular cable.