Hot Docs 2021: Our Review of ‘Fly So Far’

Hot Docs 2021: Our Review of ‘Fly So Far’

Women deserve to live their lives outside of the biological prerogative that men have assigned to them. But of course, men disagree with that, especially the lawmakers behind El Salvador’s strictest antichoice laws. They believe that life begins at conception and takes that idea into a more radical level. They perceive any death of a fetus as an abortion. And they imprison expecting mothers who don’t successfully carry their children to term. Fly So Far shows shots of these women, one by one. It lets viewer know the names of 23 women who are in prison, the system lengthening their served sentences.

Eventually, Fly So Far focuses on Teodora Vasquez and her family. The system tore this family apart. Vasquez didn’t have proper access to healthcare when she was giving birth to her second child. This forced her to give birth in an alleyway. When authorities came, they accused her of killing her baby, giving her a 30 year sentence for homicide. For context, the sentence for abortion – a crime she didn’t commit – is only ten years long. The film, then, follows the family in 2018 when they were appealing Vasquez’ sentence. The shots here show the family eventually telling their story.

Fly So Far sometimes depicts El Salvador’s women, especially Vasquez and her family, behind chain link fences or bars. This subtly reinforces the idea that the country’s punishes poor women. Thankfully, in 2018, the country’s courts eventually commuted her sentence, breaking those fences between Vasquez and her family. The film, during it third act, has two plot arcs. The first shows the second family that Vazquez joins despite her incarceration. She finds women fighting her cause, greeting her during her first steps as a free woman. The second is her giving back to those women, working to attain freedom for them.

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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watch movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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