With intimate and unprecedented access, this film tells the story of one of the most important, yet least-known, activists in American history.
A woman whose nude body was abandoned on a motel room floor after an botched illegal abortion became an icon for a divisive issue.
Jane Gillooly is a non-fiction and narrative film and video maker. Projects include Today The Hawk Takes One Chick (2007-08) an observational film shot in a rural Swaziland; Rockefeller-nominated experimental feature film script, The Not Dead Yet Club (2006); Dragonflies, The Baby Cries (2000) which premiered at the Film Society of Lincoln Center, and… Show more aired on PBS and the Sundance Channel. She was also co-producer of Theme: Murder (1998), selected to screen at Full Frame Documentary Festival and INPUT. Her film Leona’s Sister Gerri (1995) was included on the Best of P.O.V. collection released 2007. A MacDowell fellow, Gillooly is a professor of film at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts. Show less
"A thoughtful, dignified and intensely moving documentary.”
— The Nation
Millions have seen the photograph, and no one who has seen it will ever forget it: a naked woman, dead from a botched illegal abortion, lying on a motel room floor. The picture appeared in Ms. Magazine in April 1973, and quickly became a symbol for the abortion rights movement. Leona’s Sister Gerri tells the dramatic story of Gerri Santoro, a mother of two and the “real person” in the now famous photo. She was the 28-year-old mother of two young daughters, and she had summoned the courage to leave an abusive husband. When she became pregnant by a lover, her circumstances forced her to accept the lover’s offer of a D.I.Y. abortion. The man left her when the illegal abortion went awry, and her body was found the next morning in the gruesome, bloody crouch the crime-scene photograph captured. When the photo was published by Ms. Magazine in 1973 to illustrate the dangers of criminalizing abortion, Gerri became an icon of pro-choice activists nationwide.