Last night Christy Turlington Burns’ documentary No Woman, No Cry premiered on Oprah’s OWN network. Struck by her own sense of mortality after the difficult delivery of her daughter Grace, Turlington worried over the millions of women around the world without access to the excellent care she received. (Each day 1,000 women die in childbirth, which is but one of the documentary’s many terrifying statistics.) The two-hour film chronicles various women’s stories in Tanzania, Bangladesh, central Florida, Guatemala, as well as the despair of an American widower who lost his wife to a rare, under-researched condition during the delivery of their son. It was harrowing, infuriating stuff, though maybe would make a more effective and context-filled series than a one-shot film.
In a brief conversation following the film, Turlington and her husband Ed Burns sat in interview chairs to discuss her motivation in making the film. The set-up sounds awkward, but Turlington struck me as passionate, practical-minded, and solution-oriented. I do wish that that woman had showed up more in her documentary. Instead Turlington served as a rather clumsy on-screen anchor in between hard-scrabble locales—musing in her serene voice over idyllic scenes of her brushing her teeth or reading to her children in her lovely Manhattan apartment. “In some ways I can relate to Monica,” she says, empathizing with a scared woman in Bangladesh. “I also wanted to have a home birth.” Moments like that only undercut the very real and very fine work she did in this film and in her ongoing campaign Every Mother Counts.
Did any of you mothers or daughters (or fathers and sons!) watch? Were you impressed by Turlington’s dual work as a director and women’s advocate?