FILMMAKER LIVE: The Janes
Join us for FILMMAKER LIVE, featuring THE JANES, the story of a group of unlikely outlaws.
Film is elevated when we come together and have a shared viewing experience, and even more impactful when the filmmaker joins us for the conversation. Therefore, we hope you can join us for FILMMAKER LIVE, featuring THE JANES, with special guest and film director, Tia Lessin. Join us at 7 pm for the film screening and stay afterward for an in depth discussion with filmmakers about the film content and their creative process.
FILM: THE JANES
In the spring of 1972, police raided an apartment on the South Side of Chicago where seven women who were part of a clandestine network were arrested and charged. Using code names, fronts, and safe houses to protect themselves and their work, the accused had built an underground service for women seeking safe, affordable, illegal abortions. They called themselves “Jane.”
Directed by Oscar-nominee Tia Lessin (HBO’s Trouble the Water) and Emmy-nominee Emma Pildes (HBO’s Jane Fonda in Five Acts), The Janes offers first-hand accounts from the women at the center of the group, many speaking on the record for the first time.
The Janes tells the story of a group of unlikely outlaws. Defying the state legislature that outlawed abortion, the Catholic Church that condemned it, and the Chicago Mob that was profiting from it, the members of Jane risked their personal and professional lives to help women in need. In the pre-Roe v. Wade era –– a time when abortion was a crime in most states and even circulating information about abortion was a felony in Illinois –– the Janes provided low-cost and free abortions to an estimated 11,000 women.
FILMMAKER: Tia Lessin
Tia Lessin was nominated for an Academy Award for her work as a director and producer of the Hurricane Katrina survival story Trouble the Water, winner of the 2008 Sundance Grand Jury Prize and the Gotham Independent Film Award. She directed and produced Citizen Koch, about rise of the Tea Party in the Midwest, which also premiered at Sundance and was shortlisted for an Oscar in 2014. Lessin directed The Janes, about an underground abortion service, which will premiere at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. In 2001, Tia received the Sidney Hillman Award for Broadcast Journalism for directing the documentary short Behind the Labels about the labor trafficking of garment workers on U.S. Saipan.
Lessin was a producer of Palme D’Or winning Fahrenheit 9/11, Academy Award-winning Bowling for Columbine, and the Grammy-winning No Direction Home: Bob Dylan. She produced the film Where to Invade Next and executive produced Fahrenheit 11/9. Her work on the 1998/99 television series The Awful Truth earned her two Emmy nominations, one arrest, and a lifetime ban from Disneyland.
Lessin is a past fellow of the Open Society Institute and the Sundance Institute and has served as an advisor to IFP, Sundance and Creative Capital artists. Her filmmaking has been supported by The Bertha Foundation, Chicken & Egg, Cinereach, Creative Capital, The Ford Foundation’s JustFilms, Fork Films, the International Documentary Association’s Pare Lorentz Fund, the MacArthur Foundation, New York State Council on the Arts, Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program. She is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences and the Directors Guild of America.
Born and raised in Washington, D.C, Lessin’s mother and grandmother were Jewish refugees who fled Nazi-occupied Europe and found sanctuary in Trinidad and later in the U.S. Her grandfather was imprisoned at Auschwitz. Their experiences have informed the questions about survival and resistance that have guided Lessin’s filmmaking.
Lessin is a 1998 graduate of Cornell University and lives in Brooklyn, New York with her partner and frequent collaborator, Carl Deal, and their son.