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Shoddy filmmaking meets the miracle of life in a police training film turned cult classic

The audience for institutional training films is generally limited to those forced to endure them to collect a salary. However, as Everything You Wanted to Know About Sudden Birth (But Were Afraid to Ask) explores, there is a niche audience to whom the shoddy filmmaking, stiff acting and clinical dialogue of vintage training videos is a small thrill. The latest archival short from the US director Scott Calonico tells the story of a California police training video called Sudden Birth (1966), which has gone on to become something of a cult classic of the genre – in part due to its juxtaposition of clinical, amateurish production with the high human drama of an actual on-screen birth. Exploring the lives of the team behind Sudden Birth, Calonico untangles a web of personal stories that more than rivals the intrigue of the film at its centre, and in doing so builds a surprisingly heartfelt narrative to accompany the campy fun.

Director: Scott Calonico

Producers: Skip Elsheimer, Harmon Leon

5 July 2021

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