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BELLY OF THE BEAST (2020, USA)

Kelli Dillon is an African-American woman who ended up in prison in the early 2000s. For years, her husband beat and mistreated her, she killed him and ended up in prison for 15 years. After some time in a California prison, the largest prison for women in the world, she had health problems and ended up seeing the prison doctor fearing she had cancer. The tests showed that she did not have cancer, but she still ended up on the operating table, and only a few years later it was found out that she had been sterilized without her knowledge. And it will be shown that Kelli is not the only one who experienced forced sterilization in prison, and the documentary that Erika Cohn recorded over a period of seven years will show the terrible and horrifying extent of what was happening.

With the help of a human rights lawyer, Kelli will try to seek satisfaction in court, and very soon an action will be launched to stop this horrible practice. Here we will also learn about the shocking history of forced sterilization of women in America, especially in California, where this practice was officially banned in 1979, but we will see that not everyone adhered to it like a drunkard. Prisons thus served as the main training ground for the sterilization of women, especially black and Latino women, and we will learn that the Nazis in the 1930s, when they started playing with eugenics, came precisely to California to learn about the programs and practices there.

“Belly of the Beast” is a documentary with a strong activist and humanist message, in which the mainstream rhetoric and class and racial privileges and stereotypes in American society are unavoidable, and we see that even in this way the racist practice is actually just continued. In time, some investigative journalists will join the investigation into this horrifying, inhumane, actually unimaginable practice in American prisons, and they too will come to new shocking knowledge.

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