Anti-abortion movie to show at Cineplex

The controversial anti-abortion movie Unplanned is coming to Prince George.

The American drama, based on the true story of a Planned Parenthood clinic director in Texas who becomes an anti-abortion speaker, will be playing at the Cineplex on Sat., July 27, 10 a.m. start.

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"This film can be used as a powerful tool to challenge people's perceptions of abortion and its impact on women, children, families, and clinic workers," Jared White of Advokate Life and Education Services said in a statement announcing the screening.

The Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada has called the film "a dangerous piece of anti-abortion propaganda" that "could incite fanatics to commit acts of harassment or violence against clinics or doctors."

ARCC executive director Joyce Arthur also noted the film's attempt to challenge abortion rights is "a non-starter in Canada, where women and transgender people have a Charter right to abortion based on their rights to bodily autonomy and equality."

Top film critics on movie review aggregation websites Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes have panned it, with many calling it propaganda. But audience scores are much higher and some theatres were packed as faith-based and anti-abortion groups in the U.S. held group screenings.

Ellis Jacob, president and CEO of Cineplex said the company has received many phone calls and emails from Canadians on both sides of the conversation.

The decision to screen the film was "a complicated one and it was not made easily or lightly."

Jacob says showing controversial films on the big screen is not new to him, Cineplex or the industry as a whole, and he's confident the company made the right decision.

He added it's important to remember that Canada is a country that values freedom of expression, and that audiences can decide whether or not they want to see the film.

"I understand and can appreciate the concerns about the film, but it is up to each of us to decide whether or not we want to see it," Jacob said.

"In Canada, we have that option and I think it is an important thing to remember."

The movie is being distributed in Canada by Fredericton-based Cinedicom, which is run by BJ McKelvie, who is also a pastor.

"Some groups are saying that they'll protest, and there's a lot of people that will support," said McKelvie told The Canadian Press in a recent interview.

In B.C. the film has a PG rating with "sexual language, medical trauma" caution.

Tickets are a suggested donation of $10 and can be reserved by emailing Madison at unplannedpg@gmail.com.

Once reserved, tickets can be picked up at the theatre starting at 9:15 a.m..

Only cash will be accepted for purchases at the door and seating is on a first-come, first-serve basis.

- with files from The Canadian Press

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