‘Red, White and Blue’ short film offers commentary on reproductive rights

'Red, White and Blue' is in theaters nationwide starting Feb. 16.

It’s not often that a short film packs as powerful a gut punch as “Red, White and Blue.” The film is a commentary on current issues of reproductive rights and limits on access to abortion in the United States, but it’s also a simple story about motherhood.

Writer and director Nazrin Choudhury told the Michigan Independent that some audience members came to the film with preconceived notions and that those were the people she wanted to connect with.

“It’s like, how do I reach the people in those other states who are voting in a very different way that isn’t protecting those reproductive rights?” Choudhury said. “And you thought that’s what this story was. But it’s not, because when we’re looking at characters, we don’t know what’s going on in their lives. We don’t know what their stories are. We might dismiss people.”

The story centers around Rachel, played by actor Brittany Snow. Rachel is a single parent of two children, living paycheck to paycheck and working as a waitress at an Arkansas diner. When her life is upended due to an unwanted pregnancy, Rachel makes the difficult decision to drive out of state with her daughter Maddy, played by Juliet Donenfeld, seeking an abortion. The story includes a dramatic twist that Choudhury says “wasn’t done to be sensationalist” but to make an impact on the viewer.

The film is Choudhury’s directorial debut. Her writing, producing and acting credits include “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan,” “Fear the Walking Dead,” “Damnation,” and “Damien.” Snow has acted in films such as “Pitch Perfect,” “John Tucker Must Die,” and “Hairspray” and in TV shows such as “Nip/Tuck” and “American Dreams.”

The film highlights the ripple effects of the overturn of Roe v. Wade in 2022 and the challenges now facing those who live in 21 states where abortion care is either severely restricted or banned.

Talking about a twist in the film, Choudhury told the Michigan Independent, “The story was really there for you to see all along. … It’s really a lens back on ourselves of like, Oh, you think that you know what this is or why it matters? But do you know the full extent to what has been done and what is being done across the board?”

Choudhury said she was excited to create this story as a short film in order to prove the validity of the short film art form, a genre that is usually reserved for emerging filmmakers but has recently become a space for well-known Hollywood directors and writers.

“I had this ambition to tell what I felt like had the impact of a 90-minute feature, a full-length feature, in the span of a short film, 22 minutes, but only felt like five minutes in the watching, because hopefully you’re transported in storytelling,” Choudhury said.

Choudury said of the issue of reproductive rights in the U.S. reflected in her film: “If it can happen here, the highest democracy in the world, the freest, purportedly, country in the world, what’s to say it can’t happen anywhere else, at any point, at any time? So this is an American problem right now and distinctly so, but it’s a global issue, it’s a universal issue, and it’s a thing that we have had to fight for time and time and time again.”

The film opens nationwide in theaters on Feb. 16.