poppi + gonzo
“That constant humiliation to survive. If you’re not angry about it, what kind of person are you?”
-Ken Loach, The Guardian
Throughout his career, Ken Loach's work has consistently been focused towards social critique, highlighting and challenging society's failure to support those experiencing hardships such as benefit cuts, homelessness, and poverty. His work, which carries a social conscience and veers away from mainstream Hollywood action, exemplifies the stylistic and thematic choices to which I aspired in the creation of 'Poppi + Gonzo'.
'Poppi + Gonzo' takes place on one corner of a Belfast street, following two homeless persons' fight for survival in the face of an illegal abortion. Poppi has ingested Mifepristone and Misoprostol to induce an abortion and is currently bleeding out while hiding in a cardboard box with her only source of company, Gonzo- a young man who tries his best to care for the pair through busking for change and washing Poppi's blood from her trousers in his bucket.
As a filmmaker I am inspired by artists who use their work as a tool for social change, who challenge and confront the status quo through their work. I am particularly inspired by Italian neorealism, an homage to which can be witnessed through the cinematography of 'Poppi + Gonzo': shooting on location on the streets with passers-by, and their background dialogue, unstaged; the use of natural light and long held deep shots with non-invasive camera angles were captured on hand held camera with an aim to keep the lines between documentary and drama intentionally thin, thus emphasizing the normalisation of Irish women's suffering.
Here in Ireland, approximately 11 women travel to the mainland UK on a daily basis to undergo abortion, a procedure still considered here a criminal act. The misogyny involved in the government decision to keep this procedure unavailable for Irish women is apparent; however the classism which also comes into play is a key issue which cannot be ignored. The financial burden of the trip to England means that there will be some women who become mothers simply because they couldn't afford otherwise.
2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the UK Abortion Act- an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom legalizing abortions which is still denied to women in Northern Ireland today, placing us decades behind other provinces in the UK with regard to women's rights and bodily autonomy.
Our failure to support working class women in this way is unacceptable. Irish women's bodies are governed, as an Irish woman this is a key issue in society which demands attention. ‘Poppi + Gonzo’ holds an uncompromising magnifying glass over this injustice, inciting the audience to create social change with urgency.
-Amanda Doherty, October 27th 2017-