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The Reeler Blog

Taking Care of Business

MIdwife Cara Muhlhahn supervises the homebirth of Mayra and David Radzinski in The Business of Being Born (Photo: Barranca Productions/Red Envelope Entertainment)

By S.T. VanAirsdale

One of 2007's most popular Tribeca titles, The Business of Being Born (opening today at IFC Center) fires an investigative -- and ultimately participatory -- spotlight on the conventional wisdom about giving birth in America. Michelle Orange has the lowdown in her review, but Reeler correspondent Jennifer Merin also had a word with director Abby Epstein last April before her TFF premiere:

JM: I assume your getting pregnant while making this film about natural childbirth was happenstance. What made you conceive of the film before you conceived, so to speak?

AE: [Executive producer] Ricki Lake brought it to me. The subject's been a passion of hers for a while, and she'd wanted to do something on it. I didn’t know anything about it; I wasn't sure I was interested in it. But she gave me a book to read and I got interested. I started from absolute ignorance.

JM: How’d your becoming pregnant effect your filmmaking, and how did being in the middle of this film affect your pregnancy?

AE: It was ironic, kooky -- but it didn’t affect my work. When I interviewed people, they’d ask if I'd put my pregnancy in [or] show my birth in the movie. I'd say, "Nah -- there’s nothing interesting about my story." But by the time I got pregnant -- two years into filming -- I'd learned so much I wasn't able to make blind decisions the way I'd probably have done several years ago. I knew I had choices, took my time exploring them. I went back and forth -- I'd film an awesome, easy home birth and think I'm going to do that. Then the next day we'd film in a hospital and hear scary stories and I'd think I should find a birth center.

Visit last year's interview for more with Epstein.

Posted at January 9, 2008 8:48 AM

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