FEMINIST FRIDAY: Fascinating Films Looking At Racism In A.I. & Stem Cell Therapy Helping To End Disease

Image from ‘Coded Bias’ via Facebook

Welcome to another edition of Feminist Friday! That time of the week where we take a break from our regular content schedule and review a round-up of 3 videos that are usually centered around a particular theme, involving intersectional feminism.

This week it’s all about science, technology, and the way these industries intersect with our everyday lives, especially as women, BIPOC and families, in a way that calls into question what we are interacting with.

First up is a fascinating documentary called ‘Coded Bias’, from Director Shalini Kantayya. Given all the intense scrutiny of the technology world over the past decade, this film is a timely conversation about the issue of race and tech that is well overdue.

“Modern society sits at the intersection of two crucial questions: What does it mean when artificial intelligence increasingly governs our liberties? And what are the consequences for the people AI is biased against? When MIT Media Lab researcher Joy Buolamwini discovers that most facial-recognition software does not accurately identify darker-skinned faces and the faces of women, she delves into an investigation of widespread bias in algorithms. As it turns out, artificial intelligence is not neutral, and women are leading the charge to ensure our civil rights are protected,” says the description of the film.

You can find virtual screenings of ‘Coded Bias’ by clicking here, and watch the trailer below:

The second video we’re sharing in this column is the trailer to a new 4-part documentary series called ‘Ending Disease’, from director Joe Gantz. A revolution in medicine is happening as we move from treatments to cures for some of the most vexing diseases known to humanity, including cancer, leukemia, lymphoma, HIV/AIDS, paralysis, blindness, and more. This timely documentary follows ten patients using stem cell and CAR T therapy to treat a variety of debilitating illnesses and injuries. 

Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Joe Gantz was granted unprecedented access to these groundbreaking clinical trials. Over four parts, the documentary reveals deeply human stories of patients and their doctors working together on the frontier of medical science, as well as the intimate moments of families grappling with challenges and triumphs along the way.

‘Ending Disease’ will begin virtual screenings around the US on December 4, and you can keep an eye on further screening, streaming and on-demand announcements via the website.

The final video we’re sharing this week is the trailer for a new HBO documentary called ‘Baby God’, now available to stream. Continuing our theme this week of tech, science and how these industries directly impact people for better and for worse, this film outlines a very dark side to the fertility conversation.

‘Baby God’ presents a haunting probe into the work of infamous Nevada fertility specialist Dr. Quincy Fortier, a man who deceived countless women struggling to conceive by using his own sperm — without their knowledge or consent — to impregnate them. ‌

“Recalling a time before sperm banks, when little was understood about DNA and inherited genetic traits, the film unravels egregious, once undetectable truths about Fortier’s medical practice, as well as his alleged sexual abuse of family members. ‌Following several of his biological children as they grapple with new information about their origins and their own identities, the film examines the morality of one doctor who used science and status to exploit innumerable women — and further his own genetic legacy — over nearly half a century,” says a description of the film.

‘Baby God’ is directed and produced by Hannah Olson, and executive-produced by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady. Watch the trailer below.