By: T. Felder
Los Angeles, CA (The Hollywood Times) 4/19/22 – Nearly 50 years after Roe v. Wade Texans stand in the middle of religious and political tension surrounding an abortion clinic on the US/Mexico border. On The Divide is a film written and produced by first-time filmmakers Maya Cueva and Leah Galant. The film takes viewers into McAllen, Texas which is home of the last abortion clinic on the US/Mexico border. Whole Women’s Health Clinic services US citizens and undocumented people, if the facility were to shut down hundreds of women would be left without reproductive services due to the nearest clinic being over 250 miles away.
Mercedes, one of the film’s participants is an ex-gang member that has pledge her allegiance to the pro-life church movement, after almost aborting her infant son. She gets most of her support from the anti-abortion clinic (McAllen Pregnancy Center), which is located next door to the Whole Women’s Health clinic. The center sends its supporters to protest out in front of the abortion clinic from open to close. They shout bible verses and attempt to persuade patrons to visit their center to avoid abortion. Law enforcement in the area have very little authority because the protesters are protected by the First Amendment.
The clinic has volunteers like Denisse – a mother of four that helps guide women into the clinic. Tensions flare daily as Denisse, other volunteers, and their security guard Rey fight off Mercedes and other protestors from the Christian McAllen Pregnancy Center. Facing his own battles between the church and the abortion clinic, Rey must decide to sympathize with the women’s plight or stay fervent in his religious beliefs. Filmmakers Cueva and Galant worked closely with organizers and people from the area of McAllen and the Rio Grande Valley to ensure community representation was centered in the storytelling.
Leah tells press, “It was important for Maya and me to create a film that reached outside the echo chambers and dichotomy that often plagues discussions around abortion. We follow people who challenge preconceptions of what it means to have a stake in reproductive justice. We center those most impacted by anti-abortion legislation which are often low-income communities of color. We want to leave audiences with this question: what does choice really mean when you are not afforded options?”
Click here to stream On the Divide for free until May 18, 2022.
On the Divide is a Fishbowl Films production in association with Giving Voice Films, Willa Productions and Latino Public Broadcasting, and is a co-production of POV. The film will be available for streaming concurrently with its broadcast on all station-branded PBS platforms, including PBS.org and the PBS Video App, available on iOS, Android, Roku streaming devices, Apple TV, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, Samsung Smart TV, Chromecast and VIZIO. PBS station members can view many series, documentaries, and specials via PBS Passport. For more information about PBS Passport, visit the PBS Passport FAQ website.
Maya Cueva is a Latina award-winning director and producer with a background in documentary, radio, and audio producing. She is a Netflix Nonfiction Director and Producer fellow and was recently listed on DOC NYC’s “40 Under 40 Filmmakers’-presented by HBO Documentary Films. Maya’s work has been featured on The New Yorker, NPR’s “All Things Considered,” “Latino USA,” The Atlantic, Teen Vogue, and National Geographic. She received a student Emmy for her short film The Provider and her feature film, On the Divide, premiered in the documentary competition at Tribeca Film Festival in 2021. Her most recent short documentary Ale Libre was acquired by The New Yorker and was selected to screen at several Oscar qualifying festivals, including Big Sky Documentary Festival, Hot Docs, Aspen Film Festival, and SFFILM. Maya’s feature documentary On the Divide will be broadcast on POV on PBS, premiering April 18, 2022.
Leah Galant is a Jewish filmmaker and Fulbright Scholar based in New York whose storytelling focuses on unexpected narratives often through the lens of womxn. In 2021 she was recognized as one of DOC NYC’s “40 under 40 Filmmakers.” While at Ithaca College in 2015 she was named one of Variety’s “110 Students to Watch in Film and Media” for her work on The Provider (SXSW 2016, Student Emmy Award) and Beyond the Wall. She was a Sundance Ignite and Jacob Burns Fellow where she created Death Metal Grandma (SXSW 2018) about a 97-year-old Holocaust survivor Inge Ginsberg who sings death metal which won “Best Documentary” at the American Pavilion at Cannes Film Festival and is a NY Times Op Doc. Leah is a member of Meerkat Media worker-cooperative film production company in Sunset Park, NY. Leah serves as the Director and Director of Photography on her feature debut, On the Divide.