Fly So Far (2021)

Fly So Far
Director: Celina Escher
Writer: Celina Escher
Part of: this human world Film Festival
Seen on: 9.12.2021

Content Note: abortion, miscarriage

Teodora Vásquez had a miscarriage under the most dramatic circumstance, shortly before the baby was due to be born. Since she lives in El Salvador with some of the strictest abortion laws in the world, she faced murder charges next and was sentenced to decades in prison. There she connected with other women imprisoned for the same “crime” of losing a child, and together they started fighting for a change.

Fly So Far is an emphatic call to action and solidarity in the feminist fight. I can very much recommend it.

The film poster showing Teodora Vásquez in front of some microphones. Behind her we can see a barbwire fence.

Even while centering Vásquez, the film shows that the issues surrounding abortions and miscarriages in El Salvador is not just a solitary problem that can be solved by a single person, but is systemic and therefore needs collective action. It’s not just a question of problematic laws, but also about corrupt processes, power-hungry politics mixed with religion, and above all it’s a way for the patriarchy to reassert its control. While the situation in El Salvador is particularly dire, it’s not like the topic of pregnant people and their rights over their own bodies are not discussed elsewhere.

Vásquez is a great entry point into the discussion, because her case is so clear-cut, so obviously unjust. She was imprisoned for the biggest trauma of her life, for having a medical emergency and not receiving the proper care. Plus, there were clear breaches of protocol in the way her trial was conducted. I guess it had to be a case like hers that got the ball rolling and that had at least a modicum of success to break through the injustices of the system.

Teodora Vásquez in her prison cell.

But it is also a bit of a problematic choice in a protagonist because it is so obvious and clear with her. Some of the other women’s stories are very similar to hers. But others simply had abortions because they wanted abortions – and those people fall under the table a little bit in this film. As if the film didn’t want to rock the boat too much. As if they maybe don’t deserve the same rights. Every once in a while, the film makes careful mention of the fact that it is about more than “just” imprisoning women for miscarrying. Still, I was a little uncomfortable with this angle.

But other than that, I have no complaints about the film. It’s engaging, enraging and well-crafted (including some nice animations for the backstories). It you need some more fire to get back into the fighting mood, you will get it here.

A few women pressing against a chain-link fence.

Summarizing: very good.

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