Film series presents “A Quiet Inquisition”

Clarion University hosted a screening of “A Quiet Inquisition’, a cinéma vérité film that covers the highly controversial topic of abortion.

“A Quiet Inquisition” was co-directed by Alessandra Zeka and Holen Sabrina Kahn, who had worked nearly 18 years producing human rights-based films. The film takes place in a public hospital in Nicaragua and covers the trials and tribulations of Dr. Carla Cerrato.

Dr. Cerrato must deal with the harsh realities of a newly passed, highly restrictive law that bans abortion under any and all circumstances, including in cases of saving the mother’s life, rape and incest.

At a public hospital in Nicaragua, Dr. Cerrato must choose between following a law that bans all abortions and endangers her patients, or taking a risk and providing the care that she feels can save a woman’s life. The newly elected government (2007) of President Daniel Ortega, a former Marxist revolutionary who converted to Catholicism to swing votes, overturned a 130-year-old law protecting therapeutic abortion.

The new law prohibits abortion entirely, even in cases of rape, incest or when a woman’s life is at stake. As Cerrato and her colleagues navigate this dangerous dilemma and figure out how best to help these girls without getting in trouble, the impact of this law emerges, illuminating the tangible reality of abortion prohibition against the backdrop of a political, religious and historically complex national identity.

Co-director Holen Sabrina Kahn was in attendance for Wednesday evening’s screening. She spoke briefly before the presentation, discussing why she thought the film was important to share and the discussion she hoped it would encourage and foster.

“With [‘A Quiet Inquisition’] we were very proud of the emotional reaction we get when people see the film, but also their political and logical reactions as well. Folks who watch the movie usually feel very differently in any number of ways than when they first sat down, and that’s what we were going for.”

Kahn also commented that while the film is not “specifically designed to try and dramatically influence one’s opinion on abortion,” its inherent emotional impact is present to show a message.

The screening on March 16 was part of a Seifert Film Series and was sponsored by the Mary Seifert Cultural Series, Women and Gender Studies, the Presidential Commission on the Status of Women and the Clarion Young Democrats.

Clarion Young Democrats President Seth Ickes commented on the personal impact of the movie.

“I thought [‘A Quiet Inquisition’] was great. Even though it takes place in Nicaragua as opposed to the U.S., I feel everyone who watches it will feel it hit home. Abortion is such a huge issue not only in America, but also worldwide, and it is extremely important to have productive discussions like the ones we had tonight in order to solve it.”

Ickes also spoke on the Young Democrats’ role in helping to organize and run the event, citing that “Everyone in the organization thought this would be a great event and it was. I think we did a really good job of attracting a lot of people, not just students but also faculty, and I think that’s very important.”

For more information regarding “A Quiet Inquisition” and potential screenings, contact Dr. Kevan Yenerall at The Clarion Young Democrats meet every Thursday at 6:30 p.m. in 118 Founders Hall. For more information on women and gender studies, contact Dr. Kathleen Welsh at or V-Day Project President Natalia Naranjo at

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