Documentary: Christy Turlington Documentary Every Mile, Every Mother

May 27, 2014 by  

Documentary: Christy Turlington Documentary Every Mile, Every Mother, Please, don’t try to stick Christy Turlington Burns into a box. “I do too many kinds of things right now to label myself as any one ‘thing,’” the supermodel/philanthropist /mother/director/activist/producer said, and she is debuting her latest project, a short documentary entitled Every Mile, Every Mother at a screening with Citizens of Humanity tonight. The film is her second directorial effort; the first, No Woman No Cry, premiered at the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival. (The resulting outpouring of support provoked the founding of her nonprofit, Every Mother Counts, which aims to end preventable deaths caused by pregnancy and childbirth across the world.) Every Mile, Every Mother depicts the non-profit’s team members embarking on the Hood To Coast Relay, an overnight 200 mile race across the state of Oregon. (It’s perhaps worth noting for the supermodel enthusiasts out there that for a woman who’s been up for over 24 hours running through the wilderness of the beaver state, Turlington Burns looks fantastic throughout, if, on occasion, charmingly windswept.) “There are places where there are these proverbs that are something to the tune of, ‘to find out your pregnant is to have one foot in the grave,'” Turlington Burns said, “and when you’re in rural, developing counties and you ask a group of women how many people know someone who died of pregnancy or childbirth related complications, almost everybody will raise their hands.” This isn’t just true of developing countries: America rates 50th in the world when it comes to maternal mortality rates, behind both Bulgaria and Saudi Arabia.

The film follows the model/filmmaker and crew on race day, drawing parallels between the marathon and distance as a barrier for pregnant women to access maternity care around the world. “It felt kind of perfect for our issue, given how many women have to walk 5k, minimum, to get any kind of care,” Turlington Burns said. “And then the distance of an average marathon, 26.2 miles, is a pretty average distance that a woman would have to be transported for an emergency scenario. And in a lot of the countries where we’re working, sub-Saharan Africa, and those places, 200 miles is an average distance that you would be from any major city or district hospital.” Her own harrowing pregnancy complication—a post-partum hemorrhage after her daughter was born—provoked what became her activism for maternal health. “Almost anybody who’s had to be transported—even me, from downtown to midtown—while pregnant or whilst in labor, anyone can make that connection and imagine how frightening that would be. And then to know that even if you make that trip and get there, that there might not be electricity, or that the person there might not be educated to help you, there’s all of those what ifs. So to me, it was a kind of perfect culmination of opportunity to raise awareness and make that link for people.”

If you’re starting to feel like Christy Turlington Burns—who hinted at an upcoming narrative feature film in the works, among her other projects—is something of a wonder woman, well, you’re not alone. (Also, you’re just starting to feel that way…? Have you not seen the body that 25 years of yoga hath wrought, or the face that still shills for Calvin Klein as well as it did in the early 90s?) “I’ve always tried to challenge myself, and I’ve probably taken on more than I should, but that’s always been the way that I do it,” Turlington Burns says, and this latest initiative capitalizes on other people’s desire to do more, too. “We’re trying to create opportunities for people to make the connection,” Turlington Burns said, “that ‘this is something that affects me and touches all of us, and this is what I can do to make a difference.’” Among its Mother’s Day-timed outreach efforts, Every Mother Counts is encouraging supporters to take two actions (“Our main message is that when a child is born a mother is born, but that also every two minutes a mother dies of related complications,” Turlington Burns noted, “everything is around the two”) to share a two-minute film from Nicole Holofcener (of Enough Said fame), to run two miles, to share two facts about maternal health, to blog 200-word pieces about when they became a mother. “It’s been an interesting challenge to make that feel meaningful and not just like, ‘Sign a petition here!’ It’s hard to do.” Let’s just say that if anyone can pull it off, it’s Christy.

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