VOD film review: The 8th
Ivan | On 29, May 2021
Director: Aideen Kane, Lucy Kennedy, Maeve O’Boyle
Cast: Eamon Martin, Ailbhe Smyth, Maria Steen
Where to watch The 8th online in the UK: BFI Player / Curzon Home Cinema / Apple TV (iTunes)
In an age of negative campaigning, flexible notions of truth and targeted social media campaigns, politics is a complex sea of distrust and echo chambers. Three years ago, though, a landmark victory took place in Ireland, when a referendum was held – and won – to overturn the 8th amendment.
The law has been in place for a very long time, giving equal rights to an unborn foetus and a mother, resulting in women having to travel secretly overseas in order to have abortions. The question of termination itself is an impossible and difficult one in itself, but the right to choose is a fundamental cornerstone of women’s rights. By blanket refusing the idea of abortions due to the long-standing relationship between church and state, the 8th amendment effectively dismissed the health concerns and experiences of women across the country as irrelevant and unimportant. In 2012, one woman died in hospital after a septic miscarriage, a tragedy that galvanised the campaign that led to the 2018 vote.
Directors Aideen Kane, Lucy Kennedy and Maeve O’Boyle immerse us in the referendum battle over 90 quickly paced minutes, capturing the shame of the taboo and the immovability of either side on moral grounds, but they also brush past the extreme ends of debate to simply show women’s experiences and life stories, bringing home the immediate personal stakes of the vote. It’s a moving piece of documentary filmmaking, and an inspiring demonstration of a political campaign that refused to bend facts or focus on negatives, but instead find momentum and support through inclusive, inspiring positivity. More campaigns like that can only make the world a better place.