: Documentary Feature
GENRE: Documentary
STATUS: In Distribution


“The Janes” is the story of an underground network of women who banded together to provide safe, affordable and illegal abortions in the late 1960s and early 70s in Chicago. Defying state law, the Catholic Church, and the mob, they risked arrest and a lifetime in prison to save women’s lives.


In the spring of 1972, police raided an apartment on the South Side of Chicago where seven women who were part of a clandestine network were arrested and charged. Using code names, fronts and safe houses to protect themselves and their work, the accused had built an underground service for women seeking safe, affordable, illegal abortions. They called themselves Jane.


THE JANES is a cautionary tale – a jarring reminder of what’s at stake as abortion providers in  the U. S., and the women they serve, are forced back underground. We set out to make a film that captured the drama of the story – a group of ordinary women  turned outlaws, risking arrest and a lifetime in prison to help strangers. The film is equally about  the lengths that women went to get abortion care during the pre-Roe era, and the countless  women without the means or luck to find compassionate and skilled care who ended up in the  hospital, or in the morgue.  As state legislatures throughout the country are enacting abortion bans, there  scarcely could be a more timely moment for THE JANES.


Tia Lessin - director
Tia Lessin was nominated for an Academy Award for her work as a director and producer of the Hurricane Katrina survival story Trouble the Water, winner of the 2008 Sundance Grand Jury Prize and the Gotham Independent Film Award. She directed and produced Citizen Koch, about the rise of the Tea Party in the Midwest, which also premiered at Sundance and was shortlisted for an Oscar in 2014. The Janes is the third feature-length documentary that Tia has directed. In 2001, Tia received the Sidney Hillman Award for Broadcast Journalism for directing the documentary short Behind the Labels about the labor trafficking of garment workers on U.S. Saipan. Tia was on the producing teams of Palme D’Or winning Fahrenheit 9/11, Academy Award-winning Bowling for Columbine, and the Grammy-winning No Direction Home: Bob Dylan. She produced the film Where to Invade Next. Her work on the 1998/99 television series The Awful Truth earned her two Emmy nominations, one arrest, and a lifetime ban from Disneyland. Tia is a past fellow of the Open Society Institute and the Sundance Institute and has served as an advisor to IFP, Sundance and Creative Capital artists. Her filmmaking has been supported by The Bertha Foundation, Chicken & Egg, Cinereach, Creative Capital, The Ford Foundation’s JustFilms, Fork Films, the International Documentary Association’s Pare Lorentz Fund, the MacArthur Foundation, New York State Council on the Arts, Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program. She is a member of AMPAS and DGA.

Emma Pildes - director & producer
Emmy-nominated filmmaker Emma Pildes produced “Spielberg,” “Jane Fonda in Five Acts,” and “Very Ralph” — all for HBO Documentary Films, with premieres at the Sundance Film Festival, Cannes, and the New York Film Festival. Pildes’s other producing work includes the Emmy and Peabody Award–winning “LennoNYC” and the Emmy Award–winning “Inventing David Geffen,” as well as “American Masters: Billie Jean King.” Emma is one of Pentimento Productions' principal producers and is based in New York City.

Daniel Arcana - producer
Daniel Arcana is an independent producer, writer and creative strategist with over 25 years of professional experience in content creation and brand marketing. In addition to co-developing and co-producing “The Janes,” Daniel is a consulting producer for Doc Shop Productions, where he co-developed TNT’s “American Race” documentary series featuring Charles Barkley, the Netflix documentary Series “AFFLICTEDAfflicted” and the feature film “#UNFIT: The Dangerous Mind of Donald Trump.” Daniel is also the co-founder and former President of Exopolis, a multi award-winning creative agency and motion graphics studio; best known for creating the original network launch of “Nicktoons” and its work for Apple, including the global launches of both the original iPhone and the iPod “colors” campaign. Exopolis worked extensively for clients such as: Universal Pictures, Disney, WB, Sony Pictures, Dreamworks, Nike, Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Xbox, Delta Airlines, Formula 1, VH1, HBO, Cinemax, TCM, IFC, Sundance Channel, A&E and was the recipient of many Key Art and Broadcast Design awards.


Connect With The Filmmakers:


The Gotham Film & Media Institute - Fiscal Sponsorship Program 2024
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES / Richard Roeper Directors Tia Lessin and Emma Pildes do nomination-worthy work i
INDIEWIRE / Kate Erbland: ...expansive and emotional…
ROGER-EBERT.COM / Christy Lemire The interviews are so vivid and engaging … that they frequently pr
SALON / Melanie McFarland Directors Tia Lessin and Emma Pildes permeate The Janes with unforced wry
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL / John Anderson … a gripping historical document


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