In the U.S., 1 in 4,800 women die in childbirth. In Nigeria it is 1 in 18. In the one-hour documentary, The Edge of Joy, filmmaker Dawn Sinclair Shapiro closely follows an ensemble cast of Nigerian doctors, nurses, midwives and religious leaders as they battle the second highest maternal mortality rate in the world.
The Edge of Joy is a character-driven, cinematic expedition, ranging from deep within Nigeria's semi-arid lands of the isolated Islamic north to the lush savannas of the volatile Christian south. Inside a maternity ward, the film chronicles distressed labors, deaths, and miraculous survival. Outside, lack of blood supply, transportation and family planning are examined as causes of the cycle that kills more than 36,000 Nigerian women a year. Through unprecedented access to antenatal visits, labor and delivery, family planning counseling, rural health seminars, and reproductive health training for Islamic leaders, this unique film captures the dramatic story of pregnancy and childbirth in Nigeria.
The central characters in The Edge of Joy are the people deep within the Nigerian culture who know its misconceptions, its limitations, but also its capabilities.