‘Gimme Shelter’: Film a Game Changer in Abortion Debate?

Film defies mainstream Hollywood with pro-life message, all-star cast.

Hollywood better be careful if it values its ability to insult and alienate conservative Americans. On the heels of the implicitly patriotic and plainly pro-military “Lone Survivor” comes an even less likely studio offering. “Gimme Shelter” will be out in wide release and boasts an A-list cast – and it’s the story of a young girl risking everything to save her unborn baby.

The Ronald Krauss film follows pregnant teenager “Apple” (Vanessa Hudgens) as she flees her abusive mother (Rosario Dawson) only to face rejection from her Wall Street father (Brendan Fraser) and find herself alone and desperate on the streets. Apple's luck changes when she encounters a kind hearted stranger (James Earl Jones) who guides her to a shelter for girls fighting to save their lives – and the lives growing within them. More after the trailer.

Poised to be a game changer in the abortion debate, “Gimme Shelter,” is set coming out in theaters January 24. In addition to big Hollywood names Hudgens, Dawson, Fraser and Jones, the film boasts stars Stephanie Szostak, Emily Meade, and Ann Dowd. 

Based on a true story, the film showed the gritty reality many pregnant teenage girls face and the mainstream culture tries to hide. The film drew inspiration from Kathy DiFiore, founder of Several Sources Shelters for young pregnant women. DiFiore, recognized by several U.S. presidents as well as Mother Teresa for her work, allowed the filmmaker Krauss to visit her shelter. 

While there, Krauss found his motivation. “When I’d only been there a short time, I saw a young girl standing in front of the shelter,” Krauss said. Despite 18-degree weather, she had “walked about 25 miles to get there, with no coat and three months pregnant.” He let her in, he continued, and, “When she heard there was room for her, she grabbed me and hugged me so hard she almost knocked me over.” 

“That hug,” he emphasized, “was the inspiration for the movie.”

Krauss never forgot the connection between his film and reality, inviting the shelter’s girls and their babies to star in his movie as well as influence the script and casting. 

The big name stars appeared just as connected to their roles. As for the lead, Hudgens emphasized, “It was an opportunity to completely transform myself.” She continued, “The story, which is based on the lives of several young women who stayed at the shelter, is completely terrifying, which was all the more reason why I wanted to do it.”

Fraser donated his entire salary to the shelter while Dawson admitted, “You don’t have to be a teenage mom to connect to this. It’s about finding a space where you can have trust and faith and belief in yourself. It’s really a journey of discovery.”

— Katie Yoder is Staff Writer, Joe and Betty Anderlik Fellow in Culture and Media at the Media Research Center. Follow Katie Yoder on Twitter.