Vegas Baby exposes the life of three couples living with infertility

“This is a very personal film for me,” Micheli said. “I am thankful to the people on this film. 'Vegas Baby' always evokes discussion among an audience.”

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Vegas Baby, a short documentary following the lives of American couples who cannot have children, evoked emotion and informed its audience about the common reality of infertility at the Citizen Jane Film Festival.

The documentary, with a screen time of 77 minutes, follows participants of a YouTube contest hosted by a Las Vegas fertility clinic, the Sher Institute for Reproductive Medicine, in hopes of winning a free medical procedure that increases the chance of pregnancy. About 7.3 million American women aged 15 to 44 have used infertility services, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, making reproductive medicine a $3 billion industry in the United States.

SIRM has been doing in vitro fertilization procedures since 1982 and is the first private IVF center in the U.S. IVF, which costs roughly $20,000, is one of the only and most expensive options for couples wanting biological children. The documentary showed the controversial judging process of a board of infertility activists reviewing the contest submissions in Las Vegas and deciding on the one lucky couple.

The majority of the film follows the painful and hopeful life of three contestants: a Latino, Catholic family from Texas, a single, lesbian actress in New York City, and the winners, the Johnsons from Green Bay, Wisconsin.

The Oscar-nominated director of the film, Amanda Micheli, shared these people’s vulnerable stories as well as exposed the strenuous and tabooed reality of living with infertility. The subjects each had their own reasons for being a part of the process and exposed their own struggle with being denied one of human nature’s most basic callings. “This is a very personal film for me,” Micheli said. “I am thankful to the people on this film. Vegas Baby always evokes discussion among an audience.” Each participant of the contest expressed a desperate need for the procedure. Many women in the videos said a free IVF was their only hope at reproduction.

The Johnsons’, the winner of the contest, had tried IVF before. The couple got pregnant with twins, but lost both 20 weeks later after experiencing premature labor.

The most inspiring element to the film is its exploration of the human condition. Many people don’t think twice about infertility, as if reproducing is a guarantee to humans. Yet, one in six couples are infertile. Through heartbreak and hope, only one couple featured in the doc was successful in producing a child via IVF.

IVF is a numbers game. Couples are gambling thousands of dollars for a 40 percent chance of success.

The will people have to make a family is inspiring and heartbreaking simultaneously, and Vegas Baby captures the essence of that drive beautifully.

Edited by Claire Colby | ccolby@themaneater.com

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