Threats allegedly made against Salmar Theatres staff in Salmon Arm have led to a decision not to screen the controversial anti-abortion film Unplanned.
Salmar Community Association board member Chris Papworth confirmed on Thursday, July 4, that the board has agreed to pull the movie’s five-day run, which was set to begin on July 12 at the Salmar Classic. He said the difficult decision to cancel the film was made out of concern for the personal safety for Salmar Theatres management, who had received personal threats via social media.
“We have a track record of showing things from a variety of points of view… we try not to preclude things because of whatever personal opinions may exist on our board or something like that,” Papworth said, adding it is not unusual for people to complain about a film showing at the Salmar Classic or Salmar Grand theatres.
“What’s different here… certainly in the past, there hasn’t been an effort to dox employees or, specifically, the general manager, by releasing their personal information on social media and then encouraging people to go after them as the one responsible for some heinous act. We just aren’t prepared for those levels of hostility towards our general manager.”
Doxing refers to the act of searching for and sharing the personal information of a target person.
The screening of Unplanned, a PG-rated movie from a Canadian distributor, had been organized with support from members of the Shuswap Pro-Life Society. Speaking for the society, Hildegard Krieg said members are disappointed by the cancellation, but respect the Salmar’s decision.
“If they had just come out to picket while the movie is running, I could accept that,” Krieg said. “But I cannot accept that they should actually threaten somebody with violence personally and the family. That is absolutely uncalled for. A peaceful picket, OK, we walk through the picket line. But that is going too far.”
Papworth is also uncomfortable with the precedent cancelling the film sets, but said the safety of Salmar is the priority.
“Is it OK now on any given hot-button issue to contact the manager on a personal level? Let’s just harass her until she capitulates to our demands?” Papworth asked. “We don’t like the precedence, but at the same time, we’re not willing to put our manager, who we value greatly, at any kind of personal risk in our community.”
Papworth said there remains the option for Unplanned to be shown privately at the Salmar Classic theatre.
“They would then rent the Classic and bring it in as a private viewing,” Papworth said. “That would be up to them. And we wouldn’t discourage anybody from renting the Classic and showing a film, whatever they happen to choose to show.”
Krieg said that option is something the Shuswap Pro-Life Society would likely do at a later date.
Unplanned stars Ashley Bratcher as a Planned Parenthood clinic director who becomes an anti-abortion speaker after “the day she saw something that changed everything.” The film, based on a book of the same name by anti-abortion activist Abby Johnson, is set to play in more than 24 movie houses across Canada beginning July 12.