Hot Docs 2020 (Online): Our Review of ‘The 8th’

Hot Docs 2020 (Online): Our Review of ‘The 8th’

Following the advocacy of veteran campaigner Ailbhe Smyth and self-described glitter-activist Andrea Horan, The 8th tells the story of Irish women as they fight to overturn their constitution’s 8th amendment regarding abortion law. After a 35-year battle with government, their continued and passionate advocacy has led to a climactic vote that could repeal a law that has been viewed as one of the more restrictive laws on women’s rights in the world.

Directed by the team of Aideen Kane, Maeve O’Boyle and Lucy Kennedy, The 8th showcases the passion of women in Ireland as they fight for their reproductive rights. Smith and Horan are engaging subjects that recognize the significance of the freedom for which they’re fighting and are portrayed as both courageous and humble. Most importantly, however, Kane, Boyle and Kennedy are willing to delve into the complexities of the topic at hand by exploring some of Ireland’s more destructive rulings regarding women’s rights. (The court ruling regarding a 14-year old rape victim is particularly heart-wrenching.)

However, what sets The 8th apart from other documentaries regarding abortion law is its interest in attempting to walk a very balanced line with its arguments. Rather than demonizing one side over the other, The 8th portrays advocates of both pro-life and pro-choice arguments as passionate people who genuinely care about others. In doing so, the film effectively validates the people on both sides. It acknowledges both opinions in a healthy manner, even in moments when it clearly disagrees. This grace-filled presentation can be rare in documentaries regarding such contentious issues. Yet The 8th understands that, even in dispute, all women deserve to be respected for their views. In doing so, The 8th manages to honor the voices of both sides of the dispute and celebrate the victory in the end.

The 8th is screening at HotDocs online beginning May 28th, for more info visit the screening page right here.

It’s available to stream until June 6th.

This post was written by
Born at a very early age, Steve is a Toronto-based writer and podcaster who loves to listen to what matters to our culture on screen. When he first saw Indiana Jones steal the cross of Coronado, he knew his world would never be the same and, since then, he’s found more and more excuses to digest what’s in front of him onscreen. Also, having worked as a youth and community minister for almost 20 years, he learned that stories help everyone engage the world around them. He’s a proud hubby, father (x2) and believes that Citizen Kane, Batman Forever (yes, the Kilmer one), and The Social Network belong in the same conversation. You can hear his ramblings on ScreenFish Radio wherever podcasts are gettable or at his website, ScreenFish.net.
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