TRAILER: ‘Apio Verde’ is a Harrowing Call to Arms For Reproductive Rights in Chile

For all the social and economic progress made by Latin American countries in the last decade or so, there is still one pressing issue that weighs heavily upon the region’s conscience. Namely, that abortion is still an untouchable taboo in the vast majority of countries in the region. One need look no further than Chile for one particularly extreme example of economic development that has not translated into progressive women’s rights policy, as abortion continues to be illegal under any circumstances in the prosperous nation of 18 million.

By “any circumstances,” of course, we mean even in cases of rape, incest, danger to the mother’s life, or serious birth defects. It’s a draconian approach to the issue that takes a tangible toll on the emotional and physical well-being of would-be mothers across the South American country, and despite efforts to temper some of the law’s more extreme provisions, it continues to be the most lasting legacy of the Pinochet dictatorship.

In the midst of increasingly heated debate around the issue, one fearless filmmaker decided to take it head-on in the low-budget feature Apio Verde. Written, directed, and edited by the Barcelona-born Francesc Morales, Apio Verde is structured as a psychological thriller with a strong social message. When a young couple learns that their child will be born with a fatal birth defect that will not allow it to live outside the womb, they struggle to deal with the impending trauma after finding that therapeutic abortion is off the table.

The trailer for Apio Verde is simple and more than a little disturbing, as we are treated to an overhead shot of a pregnancy journal that takes a dark turn when a woman’s hand begins to scribble “No quiero, no quiero,” accompanied by a desperate voiceover. As the pages turn we are shown photos of children with anencephaly as the same voice over insists in a quivering whisper, “This is not a child, this is not a child.” It’s a bit heavy handed, but one certainly can’t underestimate the psychological toll such an experience can take on an expecting mother.

After playing at a number of festivals across the world, including the Arizona International Film Festival, Apio Verde was unable to find distribution in Chile due to its controversial content. In an effort to have their work seen and contribute something to the conversation around abortion in Chile, the team behind Apio Verde has made the entirety of the film available for streaming on Youtube. Take an hour or so and check it out.