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Panic Fest 2023 Give Me An A Review- Hilarious, Uncomfortable, And Impactful Anthology Is An Inconvenient Truth

Give Me An A which first premiered at the Brooklyn Horror Film Fest and showing this weekend at Panic Fest, is a compelling watch. It’s a minor miracle that Natasha Halevi’s film manages to look as good as it does, having been whipped together in the briefest amount of time shortly after the Supreme Court’s decision that disavowed abortion and LGBTQ rights. It is from this spirit that Give Me An A was born. The movie consisting of 15 separate shorts, comes from rage, anger, confusion, and anxiety.

The battle for reproductive rights has been lost, and slowly but surely, the battle for health decisions, particularly non-cis-male decisions, is being eroded. Regardless of your political leaning, allowing a small group of non-medical professionals to make these kinds of wide-sweeping decisions is dangerous. It should have become a law. It should have become a constitutional amendment, but personal politics and base pandering got in the way, just as with gun control. That has left all of us vulnerable. As Give Me An A brilliantly points out, it isn’t just women who will suffer the consequences.

Now that a medication that has been on the market since the 1980s and was approved by the FDA’s rigorous approval process has been banned, then provisionally reinstated pending an inevitable Supreme Court suit, the war isn’t just against women or LGBTQ+ people. It is against anyone who is proscience. I don’t go to an engineer for legal advice, and I’m not going to trust a career politician to make medical decisions for me. As predicted, the overturning of Row V Wade has started a slippery slide down into repression. Medications and procedures used to save a mother’s life during pregnancy are already being attacked.

How we choose to procreate(if we do at all) and why has always been questioned, but now it will be scrutinized and legislated. Birth control will be next, all while medications aimed at improving a man’s virility, like Cialis and Viagra, remain available despite the documented high-risk factors for those who take it. In this spirit of disbelief, anger, and disappointment, Give Me An A was written, directed, and produced by women.

The anthology is well-paced, weaving darkly comedic beats with deeply emotional ones to allow each moment to hit hard. Body horror, existential dread, realistic fear, and satire are all used to give voice to our loss. Each segment written and directed by a woman is smart, and all carry the same inherent DNA of betrayal. Familiar big-name actors like Firefly’s Gina Torres and Alyssa Milano, both ironically involved in the misogyny of Hollywood, with Torres having worked with notoriously troubled creator Joss Whedon and Allysa Milano, who has been the poster child for the male gaze since the ’80s, grace the shorts. These are exceedingly well-done stories, especially in light of the quick turnaround time.

Each story brings something new that will resonate with viewers differently. Working mothers, those young and desperate for an abortion, a strong, savvy woman with intelligence on her side, and rebels paving the way are all represented. This is a movie made in response to the overturning of Roe V Wade, and it never lets you forget where we have come from and where we could go again. A personal favorite from Haveli is a short titled Abigail that has Milano reading actual letters from Abigail Adams to her husband, John Adams, asking for improved women’s rights. The scathing segment shows how little things have changed.

The anthology even points out that women can be our own worst enemies. Judgments are lobbied at those who don’t choose to be mothers or those that select adoption in Our Precious Babies by director Erica Mary Wright and writer Annie Bond. This segment on frozen embryos is played for laughs, complete with an unsettling laugh track, but it forces the viewer to consider all the ways this ruling can be applied and everything at stake. A final dance segment featuring the cheerleaders who acted as introductions between each element is powerful in its imagery while remaining light enough for those who don’t get it to miss the point.

It’s clear this was a passion project told from a specific point of view for a particular audience. Issues of trans and nonbinary medical care aren’t addressed. This exclusion feels more like a product of those involved than anyone left out. To tell a story, it must be authentic to you. Telling others’ stories inevitably rings false, and although it would have been impactful to see how trans and nonbinary rights are affected by the ruling, it takes nothing away from the statements it does make.

Give Me An A is an uncomfortable rallying cry to remain vigilant and hopeful. It is a roar into the darkness to be seen and heard and a warning that we will not go quietly into the night like some Handmaid. So give Me An A indeed. Give me an abortion if needed and wanted. Give me available medical care and the authority to make appropriate decisions with my doctors. Give me assurance that you don’t want to force us into patriarchal cages where we are nothing but vessels for babies and servants for our husbands. But, mostly, give me autonomy over my body, mind, and happiness. We have earned it.

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