Some think an in vitro fertilization contest sounds crazy, but countless Americans desperate to start a family believe this social media sweepstakes is their only hope. Oscar-nominated director Amanda Micheli’s provocative documentary follows several aspiring parents who desperately want to have a baby but are struggling with infertility and the high cost of treatments. They place themselves in the hands of a Las Vegas doctor and his annual contest, which offers a prize of a free round of in-vitro fertilization—with no guarantee of success. Contestants post their video entries on YouTube, counting on the votes of strangers to make their dreams of parenthood come true.
Despite the fact that nearly 10 million Americans are unable to naturally conceive and carry a baby to term, for fear of judgment or heartache or both, infertility stories are largely kept secret. While exposing private pain online to win a contest is a brutal proposition, because IVF is rarely covered by insurance, many infertile couples consider this a gamble worth taking. Through this controversial contest, VEGAS BABY navigates the complexities of America’s burgeoning fertility industry and unveils the class disparity within a topic that is often clouded by judgment and stereotypes. Micheli explores universal themes of desire and loss through her intimate portrait of the diverse individuals – from a devoutly Catholic Latino couple in Texas to a lesbian Lady Gaga Impersonator in New York – determined to have a baby against all odds.
(n.b. the film premiered at Tribeca in 2016 as “HAVEABABY”)