Larkin is an amazing documentary filmmaker, her subject matter wide-ranging, deeply researched, and utterly compelling. The topics she takes on are always ambitious and range from flooding on the Mississippi to caregiving to nuclear power to anorexia and depression. Each film reveals Larkin’s brilliant visual and narrative storytelling, which have earned her a Peabody and and Emmy.
In her latest film, “Fighting for Fertility” (airing on PBS on May 12), she explores barriers to reproduction from the social to the biological and follows the journeys of people navigating fertility challenges from structural inequalities and racism to falling sperm counts, egg freezing, and IVF.
She’s also an awesome cousin.
Here is NOVA’s press release:
NOVA “FIGHTING FOR FERTILITY”
Premieres Wednesday, May 12 at 9 p.m. ET/ 8 p.m. CT on PBS
(Boston, MA)—On May 12, 2021, the PBS science series NOVA, a production of GBH Boston, will premiere FIGHTING FOR FERTILITY,a film examining the complexities of reproduction and the emerging science and technologies that can assist those who are struggling to have children. Featuring experts from across the medical community, FIGHTING FOR FERTILITY encourages prospective parents to have an open dialogue about the realities and challenges of starting a family.
As hopeful, would-be parents share their quests to have a child, FIGHTING FOR FERTILITY offers an unfiltered look at a growing health crisis many in our country are facing: infertility. With about one in ten adult Americans suffering from infertility and approximately 160,000 turning to in-vitro fertilization—or IVF—each year, FIGHTING FOR FERTILITY brings to light the struggles often associated with trying to have one’s own biological children.
Offering a raw, intimate look at conception, FIGHTING FOR FERTILITY addresses commonly held beliefs about starting a family, and tackles the stigma head-on. Importantly, FIGHTING FOR FERTILITY gives a voice to people who are often excluded from the larger societal conversation on reproductive health, namely the LGBTQ+ and Black communities.
Throughout the one-hour film, viewers hear from a couple exploring technology surrounding “mosaic” embryos, a young husband grappling with low sperm count, a transgender man breaking boundaries, and another couple facing a life-changing diagnosis. Each story challenges how we think of a family in 2021, instills hope, and catapults tough conversations into the mainstream, helping us all confront inequities—in particular the systemic racism that contributes to infertility rates that are twice as high for Black women as for white women. Additionally, viewers are introduced to advocates dedicated to making a difference in the infertility crisis, such as Reverend Stacey Edwards-Dunn, who founded Fertility for Colored Girls, and Trystan Reese—known globally as the “pregnant man”—who speaks candidly about his own journey towards parenthood and the healthcare disparities surrounding the LGBTQ+ community-at-large.
“The opportunity to build families has grown infinitely thanks to advances in science. FIGHTING FOR FERTILITY aims to capture the diversity of families and all of the hurdles that people need to overcome with fertility,” said Director Larkin McPhee. “The film shows that we all need better transparency around what available options exist because it can be confusing. Our hope is the film will give people a roadmap on how to engage with their doctors or their employers in order to find the right solutions.”
FIGHTING FOR FERTILITY introduces viewers to some of the most impactful scientific discoveries in modern times and pulls back the curtain on one of the most complex and under-explained processes. The film offers a broader examination of fertility and ultimately helps introduce new possibilities into the larger conversation by showcasing viable options not previously considered. The film illuminates important research on the impact of our lifestyle choices on fertility and outlines ways we can think differently about conception, whether that’s through “mosaic” embryos, surrogacy, or egg freezing.
“Unfortunately, infertility is often a taboo topic partly because people often expect reproduction to be easy. When it doesn’t turn out that way, many experience complex feelings of shame and guilt. The reality is infertility is very common, and it’s so important for people to know they’re not alone,” said NOVA Co-Executive Producer Julia Cort. “Our hope with FIGHTING FOR FERTILITY is not only to inform viewers about the state of reproductive technologies, but also to foster a compassionate conversation around these important issues, including the current inequities that can impact health and restrict access to care.”
FIGHTING FOR FERTILITY is a NOVA Production by Larkin McPhee Productions, LLC for GBH Boston. Edited by Steve Fischer. Written, Produced, and Directed by Larkin McPhee. Executive Producers for NOVA are Julia Cort and Chris Schmidt. NOVA is a production of GBH Boston.
Original funding for FIGHTING FOR FERTILITY was provided by Draper, the David H. Koch Fund for Science, the NOVA Science Trust, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.