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The pro-life movie Unplanned has had its first Canadian screening cancelled after alleged threats were made against the Shuswap movie theatre.
Unplanned is going to screen in more than 24 cinemas across Canada for a week starting July 12th. However, the film’s very existence has stirred up a great deal of debate, condemnation, and, now, even threats over its controversial plot.
The film, produced by the Christian production studio Pure Flix and starring Ashley Bratcher, follows the events depicted in Abby Johnson’s memoir of the same name. The plot follows Johnson’s journey from being Planned Parenthood clinic director in Texas to becoming a spirited and steadfast anti-abortion activist and speaker following “the day she saw something that changed everything”.
As one can imagine, the film has been praised before its release by one side of the political spectrum while being lambasted by the other.
“The film has already drawn impassioned reactions from groups on both sides of the issue in the U.S.,” writes The Star, “where it had an R-rating from the MPAA due to some graphic scenes.” Conversely, the film has retained its original PG-13 rating in Canada.
Since the film’s announcement, pro-choice activists have been protesting hard against the decision to even screen the film, but this will be the first time that any threats of violence have succeeded in stopping the film’s prospective screening.
On Thursday, July 4th, Salmar Community Association board member Chris Papworth confirmed that the planned five-day screening has been cancelled, citing threats made on social media against the theatre’s staff.
“We have a track record of showing things from a variety of points of view… we try not to preclude things because of whatever personal opinions may exist on our board or something like that,” Papworth said, adding, “certainly in the past, there hasn’t been an effort to dox employees or, specifically, the general manager, by releasing their personal information on social media and then encouraging people to go after them as the one responsible for some heinous act. We just aren’t prepared for those levels of hostility towards our general manager.”
Hildegard Krieg, speaking for the Shuswap Pro-Life Society, had this to say:
“If they had just come out to picket while the movie is running, I could accept that,” said Krieg. “But I cannot accept that they should actually threaten somebody with violence personally and the family. That is absolutely uncalled for. A peaceful picket, OK, we walk through the picket line. But that is going too far.”
In response to these threats, the Shuswap Pro-Life Society says it “will pursue [a] private screening of [the] movie Unplanned”, and, though disappointed, ultimately respects Papworth’s decision.