A Healthy Baby Girl
USA | 1997 | 57 min
A Healthy Baby Girl is an intimate, humorous, yet searing exploration of what happens when science, marketing, and corporate power enter our deepest family relationships. A Healthy Baby Girl is an inter-generational story of one family’s response to an ethical and technological crisis, experienced from their home in Merrick, Long Island.
Seventeen years after forging new ground in first-person documentary filmmaking, this film maintains its relevance as a daringly intimate approach to exposing the fine line between what is personal and what must be part of the public record.
In 1963, filmmaker Judith Helfand’s mother was prescribed the drug diethylstilbestrol (DES), meant to prevent miscarriage and ensure a healthy baby. But technology is rarely a benign midwife. In 1990, at age twenty-five, Helfand was diagnosed with DES-related cervical cancer. She went home to her family to heal from a radical hysterectomy. There she picked up her camera. Her video diary, A Healthy Baby Girl, is as much a film about filmmaking as it is a personal exploration into the impact of corporate greed, reproductive technology and hormone-mimicking “wonder drugs” on one suburban family. It was shot over five years and goes beyond loss to document mother-daughter love, family renewal, survival, political awakening, and community activism.
A Healthy Baby Girl premiered at the 1997 Sundance Film Festival and is now – as of May 2014 – released on iTunes through the Sundance Institute #ArtistServices Initiative.
Judith is now a film maker, educator and campaigner. To see more about Judith and what she does now visit her website www.judithhelfand.com.
To read more about DES, please see the many articles in our section on DES Daughters (and Sons).