Tannenbaum

On a foggy winter day, a grief stricken woman drags her Christmas tree down to the beach.

Director’s Statement

A few years ago, the wife of one of one of my friends publicly posted that she had suffered a miscarriage. It hit us all as quite the shock since she had been very active in updating her friends about her pregnancy almost daily, so we all felt the loss immediately. But it was made especially jarring by her attitude towards it, which seemed to be overwhelmingly positive and casual and “Oh well, I guess this just wasn’t meant to be right now!”

I had two consecutive reactions, the first being disbelief. Disbelief that she was all that fine with what happened. I couldn’t understand why she wasn’t more devastated. But then immediately after I thought, well, how should I know how she’s feeling? Not even just because I’m not there closely watching how she’s dealing with this, but because in general no one ever really talks about what they go through following the loss of a pregnancy. I know I personally had never really heard anyone go in depth about it. In fact, it occurred to me I was most used to hearing reassurances about how okay she is despite losing her baby, as if collectively we needed the support more than she did. So it left me with a couple nagging questions: What is it truly like for a woman after she has lost a pregnancy and why is it so hard for us to talk about it?

In the intervening years it lead me down a rabbit hole of support groups and psychologists and websites and blogs from all walks of life that seemed to shed some light on the issue. I’ve since heard and read dozens of stories about women secretly ravaged by the loss of their baby but consistently felt it taboo to ever open up about. We’ve structured society as a place that shuns women who can’t have children. Even the word “miscarriage” literally places the blame on the woman by saying she was unable to carry her baby.

That is why I wanted to make “Tannenbaum”. I wanted to tell a story about that kind of loss in a very real and honest way, that was as accurate as possible about the obscure and private emotional pain a woman goes through in the wake of such a personal death. I was extremely lucky to have my close and brilliant friend Yana Gold help me create the character of Abigail both on the page and on the screen, to bring to life a three dimensional person that embodies the kinds of themes and passion I wanted this story to tell.

We have since partnered with the Pregnancy and Infant Loss Network at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto in the hopes of using “Tannenbaum” as way to open a much needed conversation about the kind of loss that Abigail goes through.

So that women like her need never have to suffer in silence.