Thursday, January 25, 2018

"A Fascinating Mixture between Heart and Science"

When Chill began in December of 2011, I had no idea how it was going to turn out.  As a mater of fact, there were several times I wasn't even sure it would become a completed film.  It took a much longer than I expected, but with continued encouragement from friends and family and what I swear was a divine introduction, we finished it.  When I saw this review on IMDb,  it made me feel super-proud of what we accomplished together.

"CHILL presents us with a fascinating mixture of heart and science. Of how technology revolutionizes the concept of motherhood and family.

Jennifer Frappier is an actor, softball player and festival producer living in the height of her active professional life, however, thoughts of family have made her take the decision to extend her fertility by freezing her eggs. Jennifer takes us through her journey, first by getting to know her and her family background as well as her hopes of having the same chances of having the experience of having a family of her own and then through a more medical and technical approach where we see the science behind egg-freezing in full display. Frappier crafts a documentary that is a mixture of heart and science or more like science in the service of the heart.

Women are often thought to prevent pregnancy or to delay it, especially in our day and age where women are focusing on themselves, their careers and professions. Generally, people used to be have children at a younger age, forty or fifty years ago people in their twenties would marry and have children and form families of numerous children, which was the norm but not anymore. In CHILL we follow Jennifer, a woman who is laser focused in her career and newly single after a long relationship, she decides to freeze her eggs when the thought of missing out on having a family of her own the way her parents and grandparents did overwhelms her. Despite the fact that women postpone having children to focus on their careers, their biology doesn't extend the same courtesy and the chances of being fertile diminish with age. Women sometimes have to choose between their professional goals and raising a family, but not anymore, for technology gives women the chance to hold on to hope thanks to innovative procedures in egg conservation. The process as depicted in the short doc is very technical; a series of shots are administered, containing hormones that will produce the desired changes and maximize the egg count. The injections are taken within a month along with ultrasounds so as to see if the desired egg count has been achieved. After enough eggs are available, the removal procedure begins, a surgery that removes the eggs and then places them into an innovative deep freeze that has removed the freeze crystals which used to tear through the tissue, the eggs do get slightly damaged and it is possible that not all of them will be fertile, but this is why there injections where necessary to overhaul the number of eggs and have a better percentage of success. As technical as these parts are, this is truly a about family and the possibility of family. This is really what it's all about: family, Jennifer Frappier introduces us to the why by presenting her family to us, the people that means the most, the people who raise her and helped shape her into the person she is today. Jennifer presents us not just with an interesting documentary about advanced procedures, but also about how women through technology are becoming truly empowered over their bodies and their choices. They can choose to postpone pregnancy and now they can also prolong their fertility and not have their own biology punish them for the choices they make, they are in control now and it is a powerful thing. Another interesting thing about the documentary is that all the Doctors and scientists who are presented in the documentary are females, these are women who have learned and mastered these procedures and techniques in the service of a cause that they understand better than anyone. There's a sense of sisterhood in how the procedure is performed on Jennifer, how they talk to each other on a whole other level of understanding among them. Sure, a male Doctor would have been just as careful and thoughtful when applying these techniques, but there's a whole other dimension of meaning that this technique achieves when it is all-female. It's truly a thing to behold, how women can say when and how, their bodies would be almost a foreign biological entity with no regard to their needs, all bodies are like that, the disconnect between mind and biology and how we as humans sometimes have no control over the way owe function. Technology and science have become the key to master our own biology and in the case of women they have now a way to say to their own biological ticking clocks "hang on a second". Despite all these breakthroughs, one thing will remain the same; family. Families will continue to grow, Jennifer will have a chance to have a family of her own, and she can choose to be a single mom or wait for the right partner, it's all about choice and that's what empowerment is about.

Jennifer Frappier's documentary is short and not technically sophisticated, by this we mean that it's not a short documentary concerned with form, but rather with function. The purpose is not to dazzle with film-making techniques and polished cinematography, but to learn and to share. We learn about the science, which for some (including this reviewer) came off as a surprise, you may have heard of the procedure, but to see how advanced it is and how efficient it has become is another thing. The process is fascinating, and Jennifer presents it in a very easily digestible and comprehensible way that doesn't hold people by the hand, but rather makes it more intuitive. We learn not through exposition but by seeing it, show, don't tell in full motion. The sharing part comes from Frappier herself opening up to us the way she does. While this is a very private matter and a life-changing decision, Frappier opens up and we can see all the vulnerability, the doubts and fears but also the hope, the strength and a sense of humor about the whole thing, which makes her both a skilled documentarian and an amicable subject to follow. The documentary only portrays the initial process, the removal and freezing of the eggs. We hope that one day we can see the follow-up with Frappier as a mom having completed her journey."

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