About Belly of the Beast

When a courageous young woman and a radical lawyer discover a pattern of illegal sterilizations in California’s women’s prisons, they wage a near-impossible battle against the Department of Corrections. With a growing team of investigators inside prison working with colleagues on the outside, they uncover a series of statewide crimes—from inadequate health care to sexual assault to coercive sterilizations—primarily targeting women of color. This shocking legal drama captured over seven years features extraordinary access and intimate accounts from currently and formerly incarcerated people, demanding attention to a shameful and ongoing legacy of eugenics and reproductive injustice in the United States. Emmy Award winner for Outstanding Current Affairs Documentary; 2021 Peabody nominee; NY Times Critics Pick. [82 min; documentary; English]

A Q&A with Ellen Wu (Department of History, Asian American Studies Program, Center for Research on Race and Ethnicity in Society), Min Joo Lee (Center for Research on Race and Ethnicity in Society, Gender Studies), and Jessica Ford (Creative Industries and Social Sciences, Newcastle University) will follow the screening.

"Belly of the Beast does not reach for happy endings and is most absorbing in its thesis, which makes the stakes of this battle against human rights violations loud and clear." — Lovia Gyarkye, New York Times

"Inside the belly of documentarian Erika Cohn's Beast lurks a monstrosity more appalling than horror fiction." — Scott Marks, San Diego Reader

"At once a thrilling legal drama and heartbreaking depiction of devastating human rights violations that you can't imagine happening in the 21st century." — Katie Walsh, Tribune News Service

Any film screened at IU Cinema may contain content that viewers find sensitive or upsetting. Visit our Audience Advisories page to learn more.

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