Filmmakers Paula Eiselt and Tonya Lewis Lee’s Sundance award-winning documentary “Aftershock” has been acquired by Disney’s Onyx Collective and ABC News.
News of the joint acquisition comes after the feature won the U.S. Documentary special jury award for impact for change at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival, where it made its debut as an official selection last month. The documentary will stream as an original film from Onyx Collective on Hulu in the U.S., on Star Plus in Latin America and on Disney Plus in all other territories.
Directed and produced by Eiselt and Lee, “Aftershock” explores America’s maternal health care crisis through the lives of Shamony Gibson and Amber Rose Isaac, described as “vibrant, excited mothers-to-be whose deaths due to childbirth complications were preventable.”
“We are thrilled to partner with Disney’s Onyx Collective and ABC News to honor and uplift the lives of Shamony Gibson and Amber Rose Isaac,” Eiselt and Lee stated. “We hope audiences will be as inspired and empowered as we are by their families’ trailblazing work to ensure the best birthing outcomes for all Americans.”
As the documentary’s logline explains, “An alarmingly disproportionate number of Black women are failed every year by the U.S. maternal health system. … Now, their partners and families are determined to sound a rallying cry around this chilling yet largely ignored crisis.”
The filmmakers follow Gibson’s and Isaac’s bereaved partners, Omari Maynard and Bruce McIntyre, as they fight for justice and build communities of support, bonding especially with other surviving Black fathers. Over the course of the documentary, these tragic, individual experiences are punctuated with condemning historical context, showing that gynecology has a long-standing history of exploiting and neglecting Black women in America.
“’Aftershock’ is an emotional and urgent story that demands our attention,” said Tara Duncan, president of Onyx Collective and Freeform. “Paula and Tonya have captured the resilience and will of Black families to ignite a positive impact on this national health crisis for women in America. I am proud to partner with Kim Godwin and have Onyx Collective and ABC News honor and amplify the legacies of Shamony Gibson and Amber Rose Isaac.”
“Aftershock” marks the second Sundance Film Festival acquisition for Disney’s Onyx Collective, following its debut project “Summer of Soul,” which is nominated for an Academy Award for best documentary feature. Cinetic Media closed the acquisition deal with Victoria Cook, Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz.
Added Godwin: “Aftershock is an essential and devastating documentary on the lived experience of pregnant Black women that immediately draws an emotional connection to the memories of the mothers who passed away.”
“I’m incredibly proud to have ABC News Studios, together with Tara Duncan and Onyx Collective, shine a light on an epidemic affecting Black women in disproportionate numbers,” the president of ABC News continued. “The journey the family and friends take to fight a medical system that has failed them is a one many people should witness.”
Executive producers of “Aftershock” are Dawn Porter, Jenny Raskin, Geralyn White Dreyfous, Patty Quillin, Jennifer and Jonathan Allan Soros, Tegan Acton, Emma Pompetti, Janet Tittiger, Davis Guggenheim and Rahdi Taylor.