When Maisie Crow’s Jackson begins, Shannon Brewer is dealing with an onslaught of pro-life advocates picketing the women’s health clinic where she works. The film is set around 2011, when President Obama is running for reelection and states have begun enacting strict abortion restrictions that made it difficult or impossible for women to receive an abortion for any reason. As the Director of Jackson Women’s Health Organization, Brewer is the heart of the insightful and often troubling film, which sheds a light on the side of the abortion debate that we don’t often hear or read about.

Jackson still Shannon Brewer, the director for the Jackson Women's Health Organization

As director and cinematographer, Crow constructs a compelling narrative that works as both a discerning documentary and a meditation on the complex cultural forces that create the pro-life vs. pro-choice conflict. Oftentimes, these forces operate in the shadows, as Crow is quick to point out that many crisis pregnancy centers are actually funded by pro-life groups – particularly the centers in low-income areas. The director intersperses tight close-ups of the various figures involved in the Jackson, Mississippi debate with facts about abortion legislation and abortion access, and these facts somehow get increasingly troubling as the film proceeds – as does the disparate cast of characters.

Lobbyists, politicians, activists, doctors, and healthcare workers are all highlighted in Jackson, and the filmmakers go to great lengths to elucidate the unjustness of the abortion crisis in Jackson, Mississippi. As a women’s educator points out, women of color are disproportionately affected by the pro-life legislation passed in Mississippi. Thus, as the film begins to highlight Brewer’s Sisyphean efforts to help women gain access to abortion, the attention shifts to the people often lost in the fog of this ever-raging debate: the women.

Jackson does not pretend to have all the answers, nor is it an overtly political film. Rather, it is what was, is, and always will be needed: An unsettling and unrelenting reminder that, above all else, this is a human crisis where the humans are often forgotten.

See the trailer here:

Jackson runs 90 minutes and will be shown Friday, January 27 at 3:15 p.m. during Film Block 2 with the short Dr. Race - Practicing Medicine While Black as part of Denton Black Film Festival. To purchase tickets at the online box office, click here.