KERRY HUBARTT COLUMN: Gosnell film hits theaters, mainstream media looks the other way

Kerry Hubartt

The new movie “Gosnell: The Trial of America’s Biggest Serial Killer” is making waves across the nation, in spite of what have been perceived as efforts by the media and political opponents to try to keep us all in the dark about it.

The crowd-funded film about notorious Philadelphia late-term abortionist Kermit Gosnell, who was convicted in the deaths of three infants, made it into the top 10 films at the box office in its first weekend. Producers raised $2.3 million in 45 days from nearly 30,000 contributors through an IndieGogo campaign.

But the producers and some conservative media have complained that the mainstream media aren’t talking about it.

The independently-produced film opened on Oct. 12 to a limited release nationwide in 673 theaters. It is at both Fort Wayne AMC theaters at Jefferson Pointe and Dupont Road, as well as Regal Coldwater Crossing 14.

Phelim McAleer, who co-produced the film with his wife, Ann McElhinney, told The Daily Signal that “Gosnell” was the No. 1 independent movie that opening weekend, and had the No. 5 per-screen average attendance across the U.S.

“This has been achieved despite the mainstream media virtually refusing to review the film, despite it opening nationally,” McAleer said.

The film, directed by and starring Nick Searcy, recreates the investigation and trial of the Philadelphia abortionist, who is currently serving three life terms without the possibility of parole in Pennsylvania. He was convicted in 2013 of first-degree murder of three infants born alive and killed inside his abortion clinic, which prosecutors called a “house of horrors.”

Gosnell, 77, was also found guilty of manslaughter in the death of patient Karnamaya Mongar, 41, who died at the clinic of a sedative overdose during a 2009 procedure.

The Irish filmmakers published a book about Gosnell’s story last year. National Review writer Alexandra DeSanctis wrote that “the film is remarkably true to life, with the vast majority of the screenplay pulled verbatim from the grand jury testimony and Gosnell’s actual trial.”

DeSanctis wrote that when, in the film, it comes time to try the case in court, “not a single journalist shows up to cover it. Row after row of benches are shown empty, labeled with signs: ‘This row reserved for press with identification.’ This, too, is perfectly true to reality. Those of us who followed the case at the time remember well the media blackout surrounding it.”

Now the charge is that the media has extended that blackout to coverage of the film itself.

“Before and after the release of the movie,” writes Brianna Heldt of townhall.com, “both mainstream and entertainment media have largely ignored the film, in spite of its opening weekend earnings of $1.2 million.”

“The team behind ‘Gosnell,’ told the entertainment website HiT that they made the film available for review to ‘every newspaper and mainstream blogger out there,'” writes Heldt, “yet those efforts apparently only netted two reviews – one at Forbes.com, and the other appearing in The Los Angeles Times. (It is also worth noting that while critics gave overwhelmingly positive reviews on the Rotten Tomatoes website, there are only six reviews from critics. Most films receive hundreds.)”

The “Gosnell” producers also attempted to buy airtime to promote the film on National Public Radio, but they said NPR insisted that Gosnell could not be referred to as an “abortionist” or “abortion doctor” — he could only be referred to as “Philadelphia doctor Kermit Gosnell.”

So the producers walked away.

DeSanctis began her National Review story about the film by quoting English politician William Wilberforce on the floor of the House of Commons in 1791, when he argued for abolition of the slave trade:

“You may choose to look the other way, but you can never say again that you did not know.”

She concludes that after the testimony the jurors heard, and the images they saw in the Gosnell trial, “They have now seen abortion. And they can never say again that they did not know.

“Neither can anyone who sees this movie.”

Kerry Hubartt is former editor of The News-Sentinel.

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