The pro-life film that depicts the life of former Planned Parenthood clinic director Abby Johnson and her conversion to the pro-life movement is set to be shown in Canadian theaters after distributors initially blocked it. Unplanned’s co-director, Cary Solomon, credited the success of bringing the film to Canada to the outpouring of support the film received from the pro-life movement.
A recent screening of the film at the Edmonton Expo Center drew a crowd of 3,000 people, and the promotion of the event on social media helped to spread the word about the film. The success of Unplanned and its message of hope and love being used to combat the abortion industry is proof as to why the pro-life movement must continue to reach out and have these conversations with those on the other side.
The conversations the film inspired in the United States helped with the lucrative “Canada Wants Unplanned” campaign, which was signed by over 5,000 people and assisted with the film’s upcoming Canadian release. The website has a caption that reads, “Canadians want to hear Abby’s story,” but, while this is true, a few distributors are finding it difficult to release the film without conflict.
The Salmar Theatres in Salmon Arm, British Columbia was forced to cancel its five-day showing of Unplanned after receiving death threats. The Salmar Community Association board member, Chris Papworth, said that tense responses to controversial films were common, but to his knowledge, the theatre has “never received threats like this before.”
However, the CEO of Cineplex, Ellis Jacob, has defended his decision to screen Unplanned despite threats from abortion activists. In a statement he released about his plan to show the pro-life film, Jacob spoke on his appreciation for the freedom of expression, even towards opinions we may not always agree with.
“Canada is a country that believes in and rallies behind freedom of expression, but that isn’t always an easy thing to do and it certainly doesn’t always make you popular. In this instance[,] many of us will have to set aside our own personal beliefs and remember that living in a country that censors content, opinions and points of view because they are different from our own is not a country that any of us want to live in.”
According to the distribution company that was responsible for bringing Unplanned to Canada, Cinedicom, quite a few theaters in Canada have received threats, and many are anticipating protests from abortion activists. The president of BJ McKelvie spoke about the controversy surrounding the film’s Canadian release.
“Some groups are saying that they’ll protest, and there’s a lot of people that will support. We have one company that’s come under intense scrutiny, so he’s going to have security there. It’s The Movie Mill in Lethbridge, Alta. It’s been unfortunate that he’s had a lot of threats, a lot of emails.”
Despite the threats of violence from abortion supporters, The Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada has accused the film of inciting violence against abortionists, saying that “it preaches an absolutist and extreme case against abortion that has nothing to do with reality.” The pro-choice group accused Unplanned of demonizing abortion providers, even though Johnson was adamant the film be a “love letter to those trapped in the abortion industry.”
Aside from issuing a plethora of death threats, radical abortion advocates are also threatening a boycott against Cineplex. Cineplex is the only movie theater chain that didn’t cower to the radicals and decided to go forward with playing the film. Due to this, Unplanned will only play in less than 30 movie theaters across the entire country.
Filmmakers in the States faced similar issues when it came to releasing the film. In the United States, the film was given an “R” rating, a move that was questioned at the time as the film is fairly tame—despite its subject matter. In another effort to discourage viewers, the media refused to promote the film, and Google even listed it as “propaganda” in their search engine. Despite the media blackout, Unplanned managed to stay in the top ten during its second week at the box office, a successful feat that some people in Canada seem fearful will be replicated. This argument is solidified when one considers the fact that the movie was given a “PG” rating in Canada, and Canadian leaders have been attempting to block efforts to screen Unplanned in their country.
When told about the problems the film depicting her life story was facing in Canada, Johnson was not surprised.
“I have to wonder what they’re afraid of. I’m also deeply concerned that many people here have not been able to speak publicly, because they are concerned about punishment. That is not democracy; that is oppression.”
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.