Belly of the Beast

No Longer Available

Film Info
Section:Valley of the Docs
Mind the Gap
Active Cinema
Focus: Democracy
Running Time:81 min.
Director:Erika Cohn
Producer:Angela Tucker
Christen Marquez
Nicole Docta
Cinematographer:Clare Major
Bianca Travis Cline
Note Writer:Elliott Breeden


Screening note: This digital screening is available to view between 12:01am PT on Friday, October 9, and 11:59pm PT on Thursday, October 15.


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A woman in a California prison sends an impassioned, desperate letter to an ambitious lawyer pleading for help, setting off a shocking investigation into the Department of Corrections' dark history of forced sterilizations. Filmed over seven years, Erika Cohn's searing documentary centers on these two tenacious women: Kelli Dillon, a formerly incarcerated Black woman who finds out she was sterilized without her consent while in prison, and Cynthia Chandler, a nonprofit lawyer based in the Bay Area. Conducting surveys among the other inmates, Dillon discovers a disturbingly common occurrence and teams up with Chandler in pursuit of justice. Belly of the Beast chronicles the legal drama as Dillon and Chandler seek to hold the Department of Corrections responsible for the rampant crimes uncovered, many of which targeted women of color. Cohn's film is a deeply probing look at this seemingly impossible battle, as well as an exposé of modern-day eugenics in the United States.


Thank you to our Community Partner Berkeley Film Foundation


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Additional Information

Erika Cohn is a Peabody, Emmy® and DGA Award-winning filmmaker who Variety recognized as one of 2017’s top documentary filmmakers to watch and was featured in DOC NYC’s 2019 “40 Under 40.” She co-directed and produced, In Football We Trust, an Emmy award-winning feature documentary, and directed The Judge, a Peabody Award-winning and Emmy-nominated film. Erika grew up attending the Sundance Film Festival as a native of Utah, where she first began her career. In 2013, she founded Idle Wild Films, Inc., which has released three feature documentaries and produced numerous branded content and commercial spots.