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The Basement Talks

The Basement Talks

A shooting spree, a trial, and secret conversations between pro-choice and pro-life leaders captured on cassette tapes. There’s the public story and then there’s the basement talks.

Story

On December 30, 1994, a man carrying a black duffel bag entered an abortion clinic in Brookline, Massachusetts. By the day’s end, two women were dead, a manhunt was afoot, a traumatized community was in mourning, and leaders on both sides of a divide wondered what they could have done to prevent it. Thus began a six year clandestine dialogue between enemies. 

Film Info

Production

Matters Media

Date

3 June 2024

Directors

Sarah Perkins

Josh Sabey

Episode 1: The Crime

Abortion rights has turned Boston into a powder keg. As a liberal city with a highly Catholic population, it is quickly taking center stage in the national debate. And then the unimaginable. A man walks into the Planned Parenthood clinic in Brookline and opens fire. Worried that their movement will be undermined, pro-life activists work to uncover the identity of the shooter and bring him to justice.

Episode 2: THE TWO SIDES MEET

The man is captured and the trial descends into a media circus. The facts of the case are quickly abandoned in the public square as pro-choice and pro-life activists jockey for publicity and try to control the narrative. Away from the cameras and under a strict confidentiality agreement, six opposed leaders in the abortion debate meet in a windowless basement to address the hostile environment that fed the violence.

Episode 3: THE Trial

What were the shooter’s motives? His defense team attempts to show it wasn’t about abortion. His writings show a deeply schizophrenic man lost in delusions and conspiracy theories. Defense attorneys explore the possibility of a puppet master directing a sick man to the clinics with a gun. The shooter’s lawyer calls the defendant to the stand, but the Judge won’t let him testify.

Episode 4: THE verdict

The shooter planned, rehearsed, and fled the scene. The day before the shootings he went to a range for target practice. The day after he cut his hair to avoid recognition. The prosecution seeks the highest penalty. The jury takes two days to come to an agreement. Finally, the verdict is announced. The six abortion activists are left to do what the criminal proceedings could not.

Episode 5: THE MEETINGS

The Abortion Talks take a turn. Operation Rescue, a militant anti-abortion group, threatens violence to anyone who participates in the dialogue. The six activists debate going public, but there’s a hold out. The president of Mass Citizens for Life fears the ramifications within her organization for having cooperated with the enemy.

Episode 6: THE WAY THE WORLD ENDS

The activists make a splash, but it is quickly overshadowed by a new tragedy. The scandal in the Catholic church drives the six women’s remarkable accomplishment out of the news cycle. The dialogue ends in a whimper. They meet again in a post-Roe world. Can they make a difference today?

Films Info

Clients

Digital Studio

Date

25 Dec 2020

Director

Jhonathan Doe

Actors

Michael M. Maggio