Still from Belly of the Beast, produced by Angela Tucker '05

Documentary Produced by Alumna Angela Tucker '05 Premieres on PBS

BY Cody Beltis , December 14, 2020

Belly of the Beast, a documentary produced by alumna Angela Tucker '05, had its premiere on PBS this week, and is now available to view on their site. The trailer is available here, and the link to watch the film is here.  

 

Independent Lens said that in Belly of the Beast, director Erika Cohn tackles arguably her most dynamic and perilous undertaking yet, exposing modern-day eugenics and reproductive injustice in California prisons, through intimate accounts from currently and formerly incarcerated people. 

 

Belly of the Beast is about an unlikely duo, Kelli Dillon, who was involuntarily sterilized at the age of 24 while incarcerated, and Cynthia Chandler, a human rights lawyer, who together discover a pattern of illegal sterilizations—nearly forty years after being banned— in women’s prisons, shielded by prison officials and doctors inside the correctional system. They wage a near-impossible battle against the Department of Corrections. 

 

They prepare to take Kelli’s case to court, and uncover a wide range of crimes occurring within the facility—from inadequate access to healthcare to sexual assault to illegal sterilization—the latter largely perpetrated against the facility’s Black and Latinx populations.

 

While prison doctors and officials contend that these forced sterilizations were in each person’s best interest and an overall social benefit, Chandler and Dillon call into question how these procedures continued for so long after being banned in California since 1979. Their joint efforts in exposing the atrocities ultimately shed new light on the systemic racism and violence impacting people of color in women’s prisons, in a fight for reparations and justice.

 

Tucker is an Emmy-nominated producer, writer, and director. Her directorial work includes Paper Chase, a teen comedy in pre-production with Gunpowder and Sky; All Styles, a dance movie available on Showtime; Black Folk Don’t, a four-season documentary web series featured in Time Magazine’s “10 Ideas That Are Changing Your Life,” and (A)sexual, a feature length documentary that streamed on Netflix and Hulu for four years. 

 

She is in her sixth year as Series Producer of the PBS strand, AfroPop and was Co-Producer on The New Black. Previously, she was Director of Production at Big Mouth Films, a social issue documentary production company. There, she worked on several award-winning documentaries, including Pushing the Elephant (Independent Lens). In 2006, she co-founded TuckerGurl LLC, a production company passionate about telling compelling and irreverent stories about underrepresented communities. Tucker was a Sundance Institute Women Filmmakers Initiative fellow.