THE MAMA SHERPAS Premieres in Los Angeles on May 27

by Angelica Das

The Mama Sherpas: Midwives Across America

The Mama Sherpas: Midwives Across America

Incoming Co-Director at CMSI, Brigid Maher, announced today the acquisition of her upcoming documentary The Mama Sherpas, byBOND/360 and executive producers Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein. The Mama Sherpas will premiere on May 27th in Los Angeles, followed by regional, VOD and DVD releases.

“I’m humbled and honored to have Abby and Ricki come on board as Executive Producers,” said Maher, associate professor in American University’s School of Communication. “Their 2008 film The Business of Business Born had a groundbreaking impact on how women made choices around birth and inspired me to tell the story of hospital midwives who are working to bring the C-section rate down through their women based approach. With this documentary we hope to guide the public into a deeper understanding of midwives and influence public health policy and practice for the better.”

The Mama Sherpas is a topical documentary examining the rise of Ceasarean sections in the U.S. birthing industry. Through the personal stories of mothers-to-be, the film explores whether midwives are a solution to reducing the nearly 30% rate of C-section in America. Maher spoke at a recent School of Communication Faculty Forum on how her own childbirth journey sparked her passion to pursue storytelling on collaborative care practice, where doctors and midwives managing women’s care together can producer better outcomes for mother and baby.

Executive Producers Ricky Lake & Abby Epstein

Executive Producers Ricky Lake & Abby Epstein

“We were thrilled to discover Brigid Maher’s filmThe Mama Sherpas which enriches the conversation around birth choices that The Business of Being Born started in 2008,” said Lake and Epstein. “It is a privilege for us to serve as Executive Producers on this moving tribute to modern midwifery. We know that this film will help to educate and enlighten future generations of expectant parents on a more humanistic and family-centered approach to having babies.”

BOND/360 recently distributed the Lake/Epstein executive produced documentary Breastmilkand continue to collaborate on the expansion of The Business of Being Born franchise including the titular 2008 film, the 2012 follow-up More Business of Being Born and future projects.


Brigid Maher, Director

Brigid Maher is a tenured, associate professor of Film and Media Arts. She is a filmmaker and writer who additionally heads the Emerging Media concentration in SOC’s Film and Media Arts Division. Her scholarly writing focuses on the interplay between traditional film and new media theories. Her award-winning narrative and documentary films have shown in festivals in the U.S. and abroad.

Her latest documentary, The Mama Sherpas, is a feature which follows nurse-midwives, the doctors they work with, and their patients, over the course of two years. The documentary will provide an intimate glimpse into what midwives can bring into the birthing process in the hospital system. Her previous film, Veiled Voices, focuses on the phenomenon of Muslim women religious leaders in Islam. Veiled Voices is distributed by Typecast Releasing in the United States and has screened on over 150 public television stations and three national networks. Al Jazeera Network recently acquired the film for broadcast in the Middle East and North Africa. The film has additional international distribution through TVF International and has screened in numerous international festivals in the United States and abroad.

Ricki Lake, Executive Producer

Emmy Award winning Host Ricki Lake is a pop culture icon who has built a career on her graciously candid sensibility and her authentic, relatable nature. Lake’s legacy and perhaps her greatest love, is her role as independent filmmaker. Her award-winning, critically acclaimed documentary, THE BUSINESS OF BEING BORN, debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2007 and has changed the way women across America give birth. Lake worked closely with filmmaker, Abby Epstein on the project, which resonated with audiences, striking up a conversation about a subject which is sometimes considered taboo. Most recently, Lake served as executive producer for the documentary film, BREASTMILK. The film premiered at the DOC NYC Film Festival in November 2013. The world first met Lake in 1988 as ‘Tracy Turnblad’ in John Waters’ beloved film HAIRSPRAY. Lake earned an Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best Actress for her acting debut. She later went on to star multiple films including John Waters’ CRY-BABY opposite Johnny Depp and MRS. WINTERBOURNE alongside Shirley MacLaine and Brendan Fraser.

Lake is also an activist for the birthing community and has served on the board of Choices in Childbirth, a nonprofit organization that strives to improve maternity care all over the world.

Abby Epstein, Exective Producer

Abby Epstein produced and directed the celebrated documentary The Business of Being Born, with her longtime producing partner, Ricki Lake.  Heralded as a “must-see for every pregnant woman,” The Business of Being Born premiered at the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival where it was named among “Best of the Fest” by New York Magazine and The Wall Street Journal. The Business of Being Born was released theatrically in 2008 and had its broadcast premiere on Showtime.  The success of the film inspired Abby and Ricki’s book Your Best Birth, which was published by Hachette.  Their follow-up DVD seriesMore Business of Being Born featuring Cindy Crawford, Alanis Morissette, Gisele Bundchen and Christy Turlington was released in 2011. Abby and Ricki are Executive Producers on Dana Ben-Ari’s documentary Breastmilk which was released theatrically in May, 2014.  Abby made her film directing debut at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival with the documentary, Until the Violence Stops, featuring Jane Fonda, Eve Ensler, Salma Hayek and Rosie Perez. The film played at the Miami, Santa Barbara, Maui and Locarno Film Festivals and won the Audience Award at the Amnesty International Film Festival in Vancouver. Until the Violence Stops premiered on Lifetime Television and received an Emmy and a Gracie Allen Award.  Previous to that, Abby was an award-winning theater director helming several productions of RENT and “The Vagina Monologues” all over the world.


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