Another sign that we’ve reached the turning point in the breastfeeding movement is that there are several independent films in the works that have to do with breastfeeding and donor milk. I was a little disappointed that Michael Moore’s film “Sicko,” about the “crazy and sometimes cruel” U.S. health care system, did not touch on the absurdity of systematically preventing moms from succeeding at breastfeeding despite the fact that it could save $13 billion and 900 lives per year, at the very least–and we think that is a conservative estimate. The good news is that several independent film makers think this absurdity should be the subject of a documentary that examines our cultural and institutional “booby traps” and how we ended up in this mess.
Katja Esson’s short film, “Latching On,” does a great job covering much of this ground. I attended the premiere screening of her documentary at the Tribeca Film Center a couple of weeks ago and got a chance to chat with the director over a dinner sponsored by Lansinoh prior to the viewing. Like me, Katja Esson is a native of Germany, and was struck by the enormous cultural differences between her native country, where breastfeeding is accepted and embraced, and the U.S., where bottlefeeding is the norm. Even though she has no kids of her own, Katja spent seven years plumbing the depths of the anti-breastfeeding culture in the U.S.. She and I agree that the biggest booby trap is the lack of designated Baby-Friendly Hospitals in the U.S.–if new moms can’t even make it through two days of exclusive breastfeeding with their healthy, full-term babies without out being “booby-trapped”, than how can we expect them to get to the six months recommended by the AAP and every other medical & health organization? We really loved meeting some of the stars of the film, some of whom are already old friends of BfB like Heather Kelly, IBCLC and Felina of the Upper Breast Side. We were captivated by “Glam-ma” (not Grandma) a glamorous and hip black woman who tells explains that she breastfed for economic decisions because there were no free handouts of formula through WIC. Her daughter-in-law is on the fence about breastfeeding and her story steals the show. The film, which is distributed by Women Make Movies, is already one of their top-selling films of the year and has tremendous potential for raising awareness and putting pressure on the barriers, not moms. Lansinoh’s ByMomsForMoms did a fantastic video interview with Katja Esson and Debbie Zimmerman (Executive Director of Women Make Movies) which explains how the film can “open eyes” and reach classrooms, libraries and even women’s prisons. We will be staying in touch with Katja, and Women Make Movies to see how Best for Babes can help market the movie to reach the largest audience possible (and hopefully capture attention of the media), and we’ll be following the film’s attendance at festivals on Facebook. Here’s the trailer:
Before the screening of “Latching On”, we also met Beth Poague, who is the process of making a documentary called “Supply & Demand: Uncovering Breastfeeding in America”. This film also shows great promise for educating and raising awareness of the barriers that keep moms from making informed feeding decisions and achieving their personal breastfeeding goals. She interviews our Board Member, Marsha Walker and we are excited to see her film develop. Thanks to Laura Keegan, RN, FNP and author of Breastfeeding with Comfort & Joy for introducing us to Beth.
Kevin West is making a full-length documentary called “Mother’s Milk: The Movie” which expands on a short film he created in 2009 that I found very moving and inspiring. The movie will highlight the work of the Human Milk Bank Association of North America and the desperate need for donated, screened, pasteurized human milk for babies whose mothers can not breastfeed, or who have been prevented from succeeding. We’re extremely excited about the potential of this film because we think it will have mass-market appeal and be able to drive the demand for human milk and give hope to mothers who want to give their babies the next best!
Finally, there is a movie in production called Formula Fed America, which we have been following for quite some time.
Do you know of any other films that have the potential to educate and inspire the mainstream? Let us know!