Exclusive SXSW Film Festival Interview: Director Gretchen Stoeltje on Showcasing the Liberal Fight in Texas in ‘Shouting Down Midnight’

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In 2013, Texas State Senator Wendy Davis pulled off an astonishing feat, preventing a vote on SB5, a bill drastically reducing abortion access in the state, with a lengthy filibuster. Though Governor Rick Perry convened a special session to pass the bill the next day, Davis made her mark and helped attract considerable attention to the fight for reproductive rights in Texas.

The documentary Shouting Down Midnight, which makes its world premiere at SXSW, centers on Davis’ impressive act and her ensuing career, and the battle that continues to this day to protect what few reproductive liberties conservatives in Texas have yet to legally block. I had the chance to speak with filmmaker Gretchen Stoeltje about when she became passionate about this subject, keeping hope alive, and what the mindset is now in Texas with Governor Greg Abbott up for reelection.

You can watch the video above, and read below for an official summary and where to watch.

Film summary:

The state that brought us Roe v. Wade, Texas has always been a hotbed of debate on abortion rights and restrictions. In 2013, Texas State Senator Wendy Davis filibustered against SB5, a predecessor to SB8, in defense of women’s access to reproductive healthcare.

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She knew this divisive bill was just a sign of things to come.

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As the capitol filled to capacity, Sen. Davis read testimony from women strongly opposed to the bill which would effectively force draconian, pre-Roe v. Wade conditions. The bill ultimately passed, but not before hundreds of thousands of citizens made it clear that the Texas legislature had gone too far. People were activated. Lives were transformed. History was made.

Check out more of Abe Friedtanzer’s articles.

Shouting Down Midnight
The day of the Wendy Davis filibuster, June 25, 2013. The capitol was filled to capacity for the first time in history.

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| Credit: TODD WISEMAN, The Texas Tribune

Shouting Down Midnight makes its world premiere in the Documentary Spotlight section at the SXSW Film Festival.

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