Overlook Film Festival 2023 Review: Give Me An A

In 1973, the supreme court case known as Roe v Wade ruled that unduly restrictive state regulation on abortion was unconstitutional. In June of 2022, the supreme court overturned Roe v Wade, taking away the constitutional right to abortion. This decision shocked the nation and threatened the lives and general wellbeing of women and people with uteruses across the country. In response to this ruling, a group of filmmakers got together to create an anthology of shorts in direct response to the overturning of Roe v Wade. That anthology is titled Give Me An A, and audiences at the Overlook Film Festival had the opportunity to see this revolutionary film.

Give Me An A contains 16 different short films, including one that acts as the prologue, segment title heads, and epilogue. Created by Natasha Halevi, this anthology includes segments by many talented individuals including Meg Swertlow, Bonnie Discepolo, Danin Jacquay, Erica Mary Wright, Monica Moore-Suriyage, Sarah Kopkin, Caitlin Hargraves, Megan Rosati, Hannah Alline, Avital Ash, Mary C. Russell, Valerie Finkel, Kelly Nygaard, Loren Escandón, and Francesca Maldonado. Every filmmaker brings their own individual voice to the anthology incorporating a range of genres such as horror, sci-fi, and comedy. While everyone involved has a different story to tell, there is one pervasive message throughout; personal rights and bodily autonomy matter.

Each segment of Give Me An A takes on the issue of abortion rights in unique ways, varying greatly in tone and style. The plots range from satirical comedy about how ridiculous this situation is to all-to-real and raw depictions of women trying to get abortion access to disturbing depictions of what the future looks like for women. Just as there is variance in the plots and themes, there is also variance in how successful each segment is. There are a couple that might be a bit confusing and could have done with a bit more context. Yet the ones that are successful are truly great. Some of my favorite segments are “The Cheerleaders,” “DTF,” “Plan C,” “Vasectopia,” and “The Last Store.”

Much as there is variability in how successful each segment is, some performances in Give Me An A are better than others. The strong performances make for some powerful, standout moments throughout the anthology. One of the most memorable performances comes from Gina Torres (Serenity, The Matrix Reloaded) as a woman named Violet. To the outside world, Violet is just a woman who owns and operates a convenience store, but Violet also runs the equivalent of a modern Underground Railroad helping to provide women in need with abortions. Torres excels at showing the gravity and danger surrounding her character in a way that also exudes empathy. In the segment titled “Abigail,” Alyssa Milano (Charmed, Fear) plays the titular character of Abigail Adams, wife to former president John Adams. Milano reads letters Abigail wrote to John Adams after he was elected president, encouraging him to create better rights for women. The way Milano is able to convey deeper meaning to the written words just by how she speaks and how she cheekily looks at the camera not only lets the audience know just how long we have been in this fight, but it also adds a bit of humor to the readings. Other standout performances come from Molly C. Quinn (Agnes), Milana Vayntrub (Werewolves Within), Kristen Ariza (Bosch), Erika Miranda (The Gallows Act II), and Rylee Altenburg.

With this being a small budget, indie anthology, the artistic elements are quite well done. Most of the effects are practically done, and for the most part they all look great. From gory wounds to bizarre ailments, the effects tend to be simplistic, but impactful. What is especially impressive throughout Give Me An A is the great costume and set design. Each segment has its own individual look and style, making the entire anthology dynamic and interesting while also looking fantastic. On top of that, audiences are treated to one or two original songs with delightful choreography.

Give Me An A is both a battle cry and a warning of the future that works through complex emotions in the wake of the overturning of Roe v Wade. All of the writers and directors who helped create this anthology clearly put all of their fear, anger, hope, and determination into their various segments to create something that is sure to have a little something that speaks to every viewer. Even if there are some segments that don’t work as well as others, each individual who watches Give Me An A is sure to connect to something different based on their own personal experience. If you’re looking for a cathartic experience to work through your thoughts and feelings about how woman and people with uteruses are treated in this country, this anthology is definitely for you.


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