Directors Paula Eiselt and Tonya Lewis Lee explore America’s maternal health care crisis as first-time Sundance documentary filmmakers. The film will stream on Hulu in the U.S., Star+ in Latin America, and Disney+ in all other territories.
Onyx Collective and ABC News announced a joint acquisition of the award-winning documentary AFTERSHOCK, following its debut as an official selection of the U.S. Documentary Competition at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. The feature won the U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Impact for Change.
The documentary will stream as an original film from Onyx Collective on Hulu in the U.S., Star+ in Latin America, and Disney+ in all other territories.
LOGLINE: An alarmingly disproportionate number of Black women are failed every year by the U.S. maternal health system. Shamony Gibson and Amber Rose Isaac were vibrant, excited mothers-to-be whose deaths due to childbirth complications were preventable. Now, their partners and families are determined to sound a rallying cry around this chilling yet largely ignored crisis.
Directors Paula Eiselt and Tonya Lewis Lee follow Gibson’s and Isaac’s bereaved partners, Omari Maynard and Bruce McIntyre, as they fight for justice and build communities of support, bonding especially with other surviving Black fathers. Their tragic, individual experiences are punctuated with condemning historical context, showing that gynecology has a long-standing history of exploiting and neglecting Black women in America. In the arresting words of mother-to-be Felicia Ellis, “A Black woman having a baby is like a Black man at a traffic stop with the police.” She emphasizes that paying attention is paramount. “Aftershock” brings an unsettling reality to the forefront while uplifting the families, activists and birth workers who are striving to bring institutional change and legislative reform. These mothers will not be forgotten.
Directed and Produced by: Paula Eiselt and Tonya Lewis Lee
Executive Producers: Dawn Porter, Jenny Raskin, Geralyn White Dreyfous, Patty Quillin, Jennifer and Jonathan Allan Soros, Tegan Acton, Emma Pompetti, Janet Tittiger, Davis Guggenheim and Rahdi Taylor
"AFTERSHOCK is an emotional and urgent story that demands our attention,” says Tara Duncan, president of Onyx Collective and Freeform. “Paula and Tonya have captured the resilience and will of Black families to ignite a positive impact on this national health crisis for women in America. I am proud to partner with Kim Godwin and have Onyx Collective and ABC News honor and amplify the legacies of Shamony Gibson and Amber Rose Isaac.”
“AFTERSHOCK is an essential and devastating documentary on the lived experience of pregnant Black women that immediately draws an emotional connection to the memories of the mothers who passed away,” said Kim Godwin, president of ABC News. “I’m incredibly proud to have ABC News Studios, together with Tara Duncan and Onyx Collective, shine a light on an epidemic affecting Black women in disproportionate numbers. The journey the family and friends take to fight a medical system that has failed them is one many people should witness."
“We are thrilled to partner with Disney’s Onyx Collective and ABC News to honor and uplift the lives of Shamony Gibson and Amber Rose Isaac,” says Paula Eiselt and Tonya Lewis Lee, directors and producers. “We hope audiences will be as inspired and empowered as we are by their families’ trailblazing work to ensure the best birthing outcomes for all Americans.”
AFTERSHOCK marks the second Sundance Film Festival acquisition for Disney’s Onyx Collective, following its debut project, Summer of Soul, which recently received an Academy Award® nomination. Cinetic Media closed the deal with Victoria Cook, Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz.
About Paula Eiselt
Paula Eiselt directs and produces feature films about unforgettable characters thriving in unbelievable circumstances. Her passion for vérité storytelling about fearless trailblazers fighting for change resulted in the award-winning film 93Queen (POV, HBO Max). Now, with AFTERSHOCK, Eiselt focuses her intimate lens on the U.S. maternal health crisis to seek justice, reform and to keep memory alive.
About Tonya Lewis Lee
Tonya Lewis Lee is a director, producer, and writer whose work through storytelling often explores the personal impact of civil rights and social justice issues. Lewis Lee produced, Monster, the adaptation of the Walter Dean Myers novel which premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival and currently streams on Netflix. Most recently, Lewis Lee co-directed and co-produced AFTERSHOCK, a film that examines the U.S. maternal mortality crisis though the lens of the lived experience.
About Onyx Collective
Onyx Collective is a new content brand formed under Disney General Entertainment Content (DGE) designed to curate a slate of premium entertainment programming by creators of color and underrepresented voices. Onyx Collective ushers an exciting slate of content for a global audience, including debut project Questlove’s Oscar®-nominated and multiple award-winning documentary Summer of Soul (...Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised); The Hair Tales, from executive producers Tracee Ellis Ross, Michaela Angela Davis and Oprah Winfrey; legal drama Reasonable Doubt, from executive producers Raamla Mohamed, Kerry Washington, and Larry Wilmore; and limited series The Plot, executive produced and starring two-time Oscar winner Mahershala Ali.
The brand’s roster of prolific creators also includes writer and comedian Natasha Rothwell (Insecure, SNL), writer, producer and director Prentice Penny’s Penny for Your Thoughts, Ryan Coogler’s Proximity Media (Judas and the Black Messiah, Black Panther) and writer and director Destin Daniel Cretton (Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings) and his production company Family Owned.
About ABC News
ABC News is responsible for all of The ABC Television Network’s news programming, including broadcast, streaming, digital and audio. ABC’s award-winning newscasts include Good Morning America, World News Tonight with David Muir, GMA3: What You Need to Know, Nightline, 20/20, and This Week with George Stephanopoulos. ABC’s The View joined the news division in 2014, Tamron Hall joined in 2021, and in 2018, ABC News launched 24/7 streaming news channel ABC News Live and acquired renowned data journalism organization FiveThirtyEight. NewsOne, the affiliate news service of ABC News, provides live and packaged news, sports and weather reports to over 200 ABC affiliates and more than 30 domestic and international clients. More people get their news from ABC News than from any other source.