Politically Poignancy in Death of the Virgin
A young svelte woman in her early 20’s pirouettes gracefully around a room, the picture of poise and grace. Moments later she is face down in a toilet, anguish on her face. A voiceover relates her aspirations and dreams of the future. These are the first few moments of Death of the Virgin; a film which takes an unusual perspective on the topic of abortion. This film is certainly provocative and more relevant now than during any time in the past half-century. What is undeniably true is that this story should be told by female filmmakers. The extraordinarily talented professionals behind the making of this film include producer Yuqi An. Known for some of the biggest and most lauded films and television series airing on CCTV in China (the country’s leading entertainment network), Ms. An enthusiastically lent her skill to a film which covers a story so gender centric. Death of the Virgin is the kind of film that will spark discussion on both sides of the political fence. This is the time to present this story in such a personal perspective. Death of the Virgin has already won multiple awards at the New York International Film Awards and Toronto Indie Shorts
Sally Collins (Shalynne Armstrong of Nickelodeon’s The Thunderman’s– Kid’s Choice Awards favorite show in 2016, 2017, & 2018) is a young aspiring ballet dancer preparing to audition for Julliard. Her father Josef (Gregg Lawrence of FX’s Primetime Emmy Award–winning series American Crime Story and Comedy Central’s People’s Choice Award–winning series TOSH.0) adamantly believes in his Christian faith yet is seemingly tone-deaf to Sally’s confliction over her pregnancy. When he invites a couple to dinner and prays, Sally’s refusal to bow her head is an indication that she wants to make her own decisions. She wants answers now but those around her only offer vague statements that “God has a plan for you.” Sally takes matters into her own hands and finds an underground abortion clinic. The final scene of the film is a self-abortion which is accompanied by the delicate music of Sally’s favorite childhood ballerina toy. The contrast is unsettling to say the least.
Producer Yuqi An was deeply committed to the presentation of this story. Film is a vehicle for connection and understanding, regardless of your position on social issues. Ms. An’s dedication to the financial and scheduling parameters of this production were the foundation upon which her collaborators rested. Locations, rates, and overall safety were aspects under the umbrella of responsibilities Yuqi managed. She states, “Every time I take on a project, I’m committed to it completely. It’s important to have a voice and I deeply believe in filmmakers making their voices heard. Societies must have open discussion in order to understand each other and find a better way. I’m proud to be a member of the artistic community who throughout much of history has ignited the public debate over topics that shape society.” As a successful filmmaker in both the film/TV industries of her native China and the United States, Yuqi An is part of the modern wave of artists vacillating between these two countries who will likely be the conduit holding the people of these two massive powers connected. With China’s revision to a two-child policy and the United States Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe vs. Wade, the topic of reproductive rights is evolving within both. A film such as Death of the Virgin is timely and relevant to both cultures and their individual perspectives on it. This film is an insightful and disturbing film because it’s designed that way. Yuqi An has produced a film which will most likely be the subject of international discussion on both sides of the ocean.