Film producers besieged by requests from Aussie pro-lifers

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Daryl Lefever, producer of Unplanned in Sydney. PHOTO: Supplied

The American production team behind the pro-life film Unplanned, say they are determined to get the film into Australia after being inundated by requests from Aussies for it to be shown here.

In Sydney to promote the film, Unplanned producer Daryl Lefever told The Catholic Weekly the movie is having a profound impact on viewers in the US.

Many with a ‘pro-choice’ stance on abortion have become pro-life after seeing the film, he said.

A scene from Unplanned which tells the story of Abby Johnson, an abortion clinic worker who became prolife. PHOTO: CNS

“The impact the film is having in America is of women cancelling their abortion appointments, abortion workers leaving the industry, pro-choicers becoming pro-life, and women and men finding freedom from guilt and shame from their past. I hope those same things happen in Australia.”

In the US, the film has raked in A$26 million at the box office since it opened in March and reached the number four position during its first week in theatres.

Producers and prolife groups in Australia are seeking a distributor here so Aussie audiences can also watch the prolife blockbuster. Meanwhile, a Change.org petition calling for the film to be screened in Australia has reached more than 15,000 signatures.

Producer Daryl Lefever (second from left) at the recent preview screening of Unplanned in Sydney. Far left is Frances Hopkins from the Culture Project and second from right is Chris Lee from Sydney Catholic Youth. PHOTO: Supplied

Unplanned tells the true story of former abortion clinic worker Abby Johnson who went from being staunchly pro-abortion to pro-life after watching an ultrasound of a baby being aborted.

“When a story involves such a complete change of position as Abby’s story offers, you can’t help but want to tell it,” Mr Lefever said. “She goes from ardent pro-abortion to the most prolific pro-life speaker in the country.”

He said the central message of the film is hope and forgiveness. “If Abby’s life can change, anyone’s can. In spite of having two abortions of her own, she found truth and forgiveness in Christ.”

Communications Director for LifeChoice Australia, Felicity Carolan, said Unplanned was the best pro-life movie she’d ever seen after a recent preview screening in Sydney.

“Abby Johnson’s story is a powerful one and the producers have done an incredible job of capturing her story in this film. Unplanned is a renewed call to action for those involved in the pro-life movement,” she said.

“Many people either don’t realise, or choose to ignore the fact that abortion hurts women.”
Unplanned presents this reality of abortion, but also provides so much hope for those healing from abortion.

Lorraine Verala, Ministry Team Leader for Unplanned, at the premiere of the film in the US. PHOTO: Supplied

“Bringing Unplanned into Australian cinemas will be an opportunity to reach those who are not necessarily involved in the pro-life movement, and to continue to build a culture of life in Australia.”

Also visiting Sydney from the US as part of the Unplanned team was Ministry Team Leader, Lorraine Verala.

She said Australia was one of the top four countries expressing a desire to have the film screened on its shores.

A scene from Unplanned. PHOTO: CNS

In Canada, where the film has been completely blacklisted by theatre companies, 3,000 people turned up to a free public screening recently.

“We had people from all around the world calling us, asking us whether we had plans to bring Unplanned to their country,” Ms Verala said.

Leaders of the prolife movement in Australia had been the most vocal, she said.

Abby Johnson, left, is seen on the set of the movie “Unplanned” with actress Ashley Bratcher, who plays her. PHOTO: CNS

“We were just hearing how the laws were very liberal, in fact more liberal in Australia than they are in America … So the people on the front lines of the pro-life movement in Australia were just begging us to come, saying, we need this here in Australia.”

She was confident producers would find a way to bring the film to Australian audiences.

“There are multiple conversations that are being had right now and we hope that there will be something that will be finalised soon,” she said.

“I feel confident because I know that God is in it. So I know he has the right distributor and the right plans for us to get his movie into the hands of Australians… Even if we can’t find a traditional distribution channel, we will make a way possible for the film to be shown.”