by Matt Abbott
January 18, 2006
LifeNews.com Note: Matt C. Abbott is the former executive director of the Illinois Right to Life Committee and the former director of public affairs for the Chicago-based Pro-Life Action League. He is a Catholic journalist and commentator.
When pro-life activists gather in Washington, D.C. on January 23, 2006 for the 33rd Annual March for Life, there will be a new face on stage — the face of a Hollywood filmmaker.
Jonathan Flora, an award-winning producer with Disney’s Buena Vista Home Entertainment has been invited by March for Life founder Nellie Gray to share the stage with, among others, Bob and Mary Schindler (the parents of the late Terri Schiavo) and Father Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life.
The invitation follows Flora’s independent creation of A Distant Thunder, the first motion picture to address partial-birth abortion.
Flora will also be speaking at a reception hosted by Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, and Father Pavone the following Tuesday in the Capitol.
The genesis of the film stems from Flora’s own post-abortive experience –something he has had to come to terms with — coupled with the discovery a few years ago that he and his wife were unable to have children.
Flora struggled with the paradox.
“Here we are praying fervently for a baby while America is treating unwanted pregnancies like a common cold at the rate of more than 4,500 abortions a day — 95 percent of them elective,” said Flora.
The Floras proved the doctors wrong, eventually conceiving two children naturally. It was during that time when he “stumbled across” partial-birth abortion.
“I was shocked when I learned [of the procedure],” said Flora. “The more research I did and the more I talked to people who also had never heard of it, the more I knew I had to try to bring this out.”
Flora turned to what he does best: writing and directing a motion picture that tries to educate through entertainment. The film is set up as a courtroom drama with a thriller twist.
Steve McEveety, producer of Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ, Braveheart and We Were Soldiers, said, “I’d call A Distant Thunder a nightmare of a movie, but nightmares are not normally representative of reality. This nightmare is happening … every day. The extra bonus here is that these filmmakers know how to shoot.”
So powerful is the film’s main thesis that once the pieces come together, it can change lives. It was for this reason, Flora says, that he chose to confine the film to 35 minutes, so it can be widely viewed by educators, school classes, religious groups, political leaders and lawmakers.
The film features veteran actors Ned Vaughn (24), Peter Renaday, and Charlene Tilton (Dallas).
Flora feels that using the medium of film to convey a message is appropriate and certainly nothing new.
“However, our goal is not to vilify anyone,” said Flora. “With A Distant Thunder, I am trying to educate people with facts but also to entertain them. That’s why I wrapped this information in a compelling story with some great effects.”
Yours truly has seen the (unrated) film, and due to its theme and some disturbing images, I would not recommend that young children see it.
As with Mel Gibson, I have to give Flora a lot of credit for making the kind of film that many in Hollywood scorn.
All the more reason to support it.