Labor of Love
Witches, rebels, and magic keepers – your new best friends. A group of midwives at a busy birth center in Colorado are bringing birth back to the community, saving their sisters and empowering families and women with choice.
In this documentary, midwives tend to people during the most vulnerable times in their lives; from first menstruation to menopause, maternal health to mental health, taboo busting and of course, lots and lots of births!
With laughs, tears, tinctures, science and screams, the audience follows along, championing our midwives and their clients as fear is transformed into wonder. Inside the four walls of the birth center, harmony gives way to grief and anger when historical oppression manifests in current events and “the bottom line” threatens our midwives’ ability to continue to serve their community of expecting parents.
One midwife, Aubre, proudly embraces being called a witch. She's the founder of Seasons Birth Center and the President of the American Association of Birth Centers. She strives to establish birth centers nationwide while worrying about her own center's financial sustainability.
Justina, a self-proclaimed "birth junkie" and a student midwife on the journey to become the third Black certified professional midwife in Colorado. Drawing from her Black and Latina heritage, she's determined to break barriers in healthcare for people of color.
Our characters represent different cultures but are united in their desire to restore dignity and agency to the people they serve. And they have accomplished birthing feats many doctors won’t even attempt.
Through our midwives, the audience has a window into the emotional experiences of clients giving birth. The midwives provide insight into unplanned pregnancies, the challenges Black moms face in mainstream medical systems, cultural wisdom, intimate relationships, and the ongoing fight for feminine creative power.
The documentary showcases their dedication to well-being, social justice, and birth justice. Can they reopen, maintain care quality, and serve their diverse clients? Will Justina graduate and continue her midwifery work? Amid uncertainties, their determination grows, making Colorado a hub for birth justice.
"Labor of Love" exposes the realities of birth, reproductive rights, and healthcare in the US. It reveals the struggle between cruelty and inequity on one side and bodily autonomy and resilience on the other. The documentary highlights safe midwifery practices that empower people, while also addressing threats to this vital work. The subject is dead serious, but the midwives approach their work with lots of belly laughs, because it takes a little levity to get through the hardest push.
Dana RomanoffDirectorCanyon Song, Love in the Tetons, Our Dreams Wont Wait, Confluence
Vickie CurtisWriterThe Social Dilemma, Chasing Coral
Chelsea JacksonEditorThe Holly, Welcome Strangers, The Love Bugs,
Dia Sokol SavageExecutive ProducerThe Holly, Teen Mom, 16 & Pregnant
Country of Origin:United States
Country of Filming:United States
DANA ROMANOFF / DIRECTOR & DP
Dana Romanoff is a documentary filmmaker and commercial director with a passion for shedding light on pressing societal matters. Dana has garnered a collection of accolades, including the Telly, W3, Communicator Awards and being named a runner-up for the Pulitzer Prize. Dana's impactful films have been featured on Smithsonian Channel, PBS, RYOT, The Atlantic, and National Geographic Digital Shorts Showcase. Notable clients include Google, Meta, Budweiser, Best Buy, UPS and Conservation International.
Dana co-founded and directed National Park Experience (NPX), an independent film series championing diversity and youth within the National Parks. She is also a seasoned photojournalist, previously working with publications including National Geographic Magazine, The New York Times, The Oregonian, GEO, and Getty Reportage.
Her dedication to her craft extended to the educational realm when she served as a Visiting Artist and fellow at Colorado School of Mines in 2017. Here, she conceived and imparted the class "Through the Lens: Photography As Activism," inspiring the next generation of visual storytellers. Dana excels in character-driven storytelling. As both a mother and a documentarian, she's worked with midwives worldwide, capturing their stories and experiences with unmatched empathy.
In this excerpt, we are introduced to midwives Aubre and Justina, along with their fellow birth workers, as they navigate the bustling environment of Seasons Community Birth Center in Thornton, Colorado. Amidst the daily rhythm of assisting in the arrival of newborns, we are immersed in a tapestry of stories that unfold before us. These include the remarkable journey of a transgender mother (assigned male at birth) embracing the challenge of breastfeeding, a Black woman who shunned a hospital birth and found herself on the brink of delivering her baby in a car, as well as the experiences of first-time fathers and overwhelmed postpartum mothers.
As the film progresses, the lives of Justina, Aubre, and their colleagues at Seasons Birth Center come into sharper focus, tracing their personal arcs. We delve deeper into the lives of select clients, following their transformative journeys as fear turns into wonder. The candidness of verite footage, intimate home videos, and insightful interview moments form the canvas through which this narrative unfolds.
The documentary is threaded with themes that resonate throughout its entirety—the historical context of childbirth in the U.S., the pressing crisis of maternal mortality, and the vital significance of midwifery care. These themes are brought to life through a dynamic interplay of artistic elements, archival imagery, and thought-provoking stock footage, often infused with a touch of satire. - This will be expanded upon and an animation style pertaining to the birth center will be developed. The midwives and clients continue to break the fourth wall as the camera too becomes a character in the film, and a more elevated level of artistry will be incorporated with cinematic shots and pacing. At its core, the film remains unfiltered, genuine, heartening, empowering, and lightheartedly poignant.