ABORTION laws in America taking away women’s fundamental rights over their own bodies has turned it into a hot topic and inspired Nazrin Choudhury to make an important short film inspired by the subject.
Her directorial debut Red, White and Blue tells the moving story of a young mother forced to travel across state lines for an urgent abortion.
The film starring Brittany Snow and Juliet Donenfeld has won acclaim, including qualifying for the Oscars.
The talented filmmaker, brought up in London and based in Los Angeles, has followed up writing for several primetime TV shows with a movie that has set her up for a big career ahead. She was happy to discuss her film and the important issue it covers.
What inspired your short film?
Last year’s Supreme Court decision to effectively overturn Roe v Wade led to the rollback of reproductive rights across many states in the US. I set out to tell a characterful and nuanced story about the real-world consequences for ordinary Americans whose voices I needed to represent on the screen.
How much of an important topic is abortion in the USA right now?
It is currently one of the most fundamental human rights issues of our time. It affects every single person who lives under the flag of the United States which is why the film is called Red, White and Blue.
You are either someone whose reproductive rights have been affected or know someone whose choice and access to necessary healthcare have been restricted.
How essential was it for you to get a strong cast?
A strong cast is an essential element in any film. We were incredibly fortunate to have Brittany Snow, whose powerful performance alongside that of her onscreen family played so beautifully by Juliet Donenfeld and Redding Munsell is a tour de force. I feel blessed that so many notable actors – some of whom I’ve worked with previously – joined us in telling this story.
What was the biggest challenge of making this movie?
We had five days to make a film which involved a road trip and a young cast which was already ambitious. On the final day of filming with just minutes to go before we needed to wrap Juliet for the day, we ran into an issue in which the carousel where we were filming broke down, but we somehow managed to rescue the situation with some very creative solutions.
Who is the movie aimed at?
This film deals with some very mature themes. Our hope is that it will find a broad audience that cares about the world we live in and the people who inhabit it, irrespective of our differing political views, and that it will resonate for people in a way that either enables them to be seen or allows them to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes.
Do you have a message you want to convey with this film?
While the film is entirely fictional, it reflects characters that may resemble people in our own lives and a shared humanity that I hope will inspire people to offer a helping hand instead of judgement.
How much does the acclaim and Oscar qualification mean to you?
It’s definitely a pinch-yourself moment. Growing up in working-class south London family, I never dreamed that a career in Hollywood would be possible for someone like me. Qualifying with a film that is my directorial debut feels surreal but incredibly gratifying and validating.
What can we expect next from you?
Well, the writers’ strike is over which means I can work again but I remain in solidarity with SAG and hope the actors also get a fair deal. I’m working on a full-length feature set in London called The Few and juggling a number of projects in development in TV.
Who is your own filmmaking hero?
So many to mention but Sarah Polley comes to mind as someone I admire for the authenticity of her storytelling.
What inspires you?
The ordinary made extraordinary. There are stories to be found everywhere. I remain forever in pursuit of that intangible quality that is empathy through the power of storytelling.