Maria Sotolongo got her start in TV in Houston as an entertainment reporter and then moved to Dallas where she worked as a meteorologist for FOX News, but Breathe: The Home Birth Documentary is her first stint behind the camera. The documentary delves into the topic of home birth, something that few people know much about.
After the birth of her oldest child, Sotolongo began researching alternative birthing techniques and finally decided that home birth was right for her growing family. Her two subsequent home births were such powerful experiences, she knew she wanted to educate others about the topic which is how the idea for Breathe: The Home Birth Documentary came to be.
Texas is one of the largest states in the U.S., but it has a very low rate of births outside of hospitals – less than 1%. “I think people still believe that home birth is sort of a hippie notion, but it actually empowers women to make decisions and have the sort of birth they want to have outside of a hospital,” said Sotolongo.
Although Breathe is her first film, Sotolongo already won an award for her work and the film is set to debut in Houston on May 9th at Midtown Arts and Theater Center (MATCH). I sat down with Sotolongo to talk about the evolution of her award winning film and the reasons why educating others about birth became so important to her. For tickets, other screening opportunities, or more information visit: www.mariasotolongo.com.
What came first the homebirth or the documentary idea?
The homebirth came before the documentary idea. Our first baby was born in the hospital, we had our second baby at home and the midwife didn’t get there on time because of the quick nature of our labor, so we had to deliver our son by ourselves. That changed me deeply and sparked my interest in talking to other women about birth.
Why do you feel showcasing homebirth is important?
I think it’s important for us to see what birth looks like without interventions. Even some doctors have never seen what a normal birth looks like, because interventions are becoming more common each year. I also think that showcasing homebirth can dispel myths about natural birth and hopefully help remove some fear associated with the pain of childbirth.
What is your goal for “Breathe”?
My goal is to inspire and educate viewers about the possibilities that exist in childbirth. Whether a woman gives birth at home, in the hospital or in a birthing center, we have choices and rights that need to be discussed.
If you had to sum up “Breathe” in one short sentence – what would it be?
“Breathe” documents the stories of 10 women and their journey through the homebirth process; it’s the only documentary where you’ll see ten raw, powerful home births and learn about evidence-based choices in childbirth.
As a first time film maker, what lessons have your learned?
I’ve learned to be patient and not rush the process: the time it takes to shoot and edit. In my case, it’s taken FIVE years for me to complete this project so I’m getting good at the virtue of patience.
How does it feel to win an award for your first film?
I didn’t really believe I got the REMI AWARD, so I called Worldfest to confirm! It’s surreal and gratifying, after all these years of working on my documentary. It feels good to know someone else other than my friends and family believes in my documentary’s potential.