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“Unplanned” writer-directors reflect on film’s impact

UNPLANNED
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Cary Solomon and Chuck Konzelman say they were impressed with movie's effects on audiences.

As the movie Unplanned is released on DVD and makes its debut in Australia, New Zealand and other countries, co-directors/producers/writers Cary Solomon and Chuck Konzelman reflected on the effects they have witnessed on audiences since it opened in the U.S. in March.

“There has been a profound reaction,” said Solomon in an interview Friday afternoon. “Literally, I’ve never seen anything like it. Even before the release we showed this movie probably to 10,000 people in screenings all over the country, … and there are three to four profound things that have happened every time.”

One thing he noticed was the high number of men regretting that “they didn’t man up, they failed as a man, because basically they forced a woman into getting an abortion or some such situation,” Solomon said.

“The other thing, I had thousands of people come up to me saying, ‘I had an abortion 20, 30, 40 years ago, and for the first time I’m free,'” Solomon stated. “‘It ruined my life, and here this movie comes along, and I understand now that there’s forgiveness. I understand there is a God. I understand that I was manipulated and I was sold a lie.’”

Unplanned is based on the book of the same name by Abby Johnson and tells of how she went from being a pro-choice clinic director for a Planned Parenthood in Texas to being a pro-life activist. What gave her a change of heart was witnessing an abortion through an ultrasound screen for the first time.

Solomon was particularly impressed by the reaction he had heard from people who stood for legal abortion. In response to a movie review in Variety that basically called the film “propaganda,” an online commenter, a pro-choice woman, said the film “challenged my thinking entirely.”

“To actually see it just made it indefensible, and it cut the legs out from under me,” she wrote. “Any intellectually honest pro-choicer should be willing to test their beliefs … but damn it, all my best talking points dissolved in the light of this portrayal. … As a woman, I cannot ever again claim to be pro-woman and stand in favor of abortion. I’m out.”

“We’re getting this in waves, and from all over the world,” Solomon said. “We’re talking about redemption, forgiveness and hope for post-abortive women, and there are probably over a billion of them in the world at this present time, and they’re finding freedom and they’re finding forgiveness. One sixth or one seventh of the world’s population is finding forgiveness through a movie. That’s crazy. That’s unbelievable. Obviously, it’s through the Lord and the spirit that comes out of the movie, but the point is this is the kind of effect the movie is having.”

In addition, he said that up to three abortion clinic workers a day are calling And Then There Was None, the apostolate Abby Johnson started to help such clinic workers get out of the industry.

Along with this week’s DVD release there is a program in place for parishes and pro-life groups to purchase a site license to screen the movie.

Solomon said there are requests for the film to be shown in places as disparate as Gibraltar and the Faroe Islands in order to halt a progressive move toward legal abortion. The film also is set to open soon in Mexico, where actor Eduardo Verastegui will serve as an “ambassador,” promoting the movie.

“We’re just very pleased that the Lord has allowed us to be part of something that we believe is very near and dear to his heart,” Konzelman said. “It’s been a journey. Looking back, in a strange way, it’s hard to remember exactly what day-to-day life was like before we went to work on the film. If you ask what we do for a living, ‘We work on Unplanned.’ … It’s a phase of life as much as anything else.”

 

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