Vessel begins with a young doctor who lived by the sea, and an unlikely idea.  Rebecca Gomperts, horrified by the realities created by anti-abortion law around the world, felt compelled to challenge this.  Her method: to provide abortions on a ship in offshore waters.

Her project, Women on Waves, begins as flawed spectacle, a media frenzy, faced with governmental, religious, and military blockades.  But with each setback comes a more refined mission, until Rebecca has the revelation that she can use new technologies to bypass law – and train women to give themselves safe abortions using WHO-sanctioned protocols with pills.

We witness the creation of an underground network of emboldened, informed activists, working at the cutting edge of global reproductive rights, who trust women to handle abortion themselves. Vessel is Rebecca’s story: one of a woman who heard and answered a calling, and transformed a wildly improbable idea into a global movement.

Vessel premiered at South by Southwest Film Festival in 2014, winning the Audience Award for Documentary in Competition and a Special Jury Award for Political Courage. The film was released theatrically in New York, and went on to screen at over 230 festivals and community screenings worldwide. Additional awards include the inaugural Peter Wintonick Award from Sheffield DocFest, the Adrienne Shelly Excellence in Filmmaking Award, the Moving Mountains Honorable Mention from Mountainfilm in Telluride, the Calgary Underground Audience Choice Honorable Mention, and the SIMA Lens to Action Jury Award.  Vessel is available on Netflix streaming in 30 countries, and across international video-on-demand platforms.



These platforms are for home use only. If you are interested in hosting a community screening or making an educational purchase, please learn more HERE or contact Kino Lober at



A Sovereignty Productions presentation, in association with Fork Films, Impact Partners, and Chicken and Egg Pictures.

Vessel was made possible with generous support from HIVOS, Mary Wohlford Foundation, Hope Foundation, NYSCA, Fledgling Fund, E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, Puffin Foundation, Mama Cash, Harnisch Foundation, Ipas, Grant Me the Wisdom Foundation, Diane and Adam Max, Lambrecht Family Foundation, Rosenthal Family Foundation, Dobkin Family Foundation, Compton Foundation, Neda Nobari Foundation, over 150 individual donors, an army of fabulous volunteers, and the fiscal sponsorship of Women Make Movies.

...Thank you!




Women on Waves was founded in 2000 with the aim to prevent unwanted pregnancies and unsafe abortions by providing sexual health services, including early medical abortions (abortion with pills), on board a Dutch ship, outside the territorial waters of countries where abortion is illegal.

In the last 10 years Women on Waves has generated enormous public interest, and much controversy, with ship campaigns in Ireland, Poland, Portugal, Spain, and Morocco.  The ship campaigns are conducted by invitation and in collaboration with local partner organizations, and are designed to add momentum to activist efforts already on the ground working to liberalize law.

Although legalization of abortion is important, medical abortion now gives women the possibility to take their lives into their own hands, regardless of the legality of abortion or the willingness of doctors. Ensuring that WHO-researched information about medical abortion is easily available to women can save women’s lives. Therefore, Women on Waves now focuses on helping women access information about medical abortion by distributing information through the internet, grassroots efforts on the ground, and by supporting the creation of safe abortion telephone hotlines in collaboration with partner organizations across South America, Africa, Asia, and Europe.

For more information, or if you need help, please visit



Do you believe the most fundamental human right is the right to control your own body? Do you believe no one should be able to make decisions about what a woman does with her body except for her?

Then get on board!

Sign up to join Vessel’s network of advocates fighting to protect women’s access to reproductive health care. We’ll let you know the most urgent moments and ways to make your voice heard for women’s reproductive rights in your community, how you can help us spread the word about this film to your friends and family, and how you get involved in this global movement, wherever you are.

If you are interested in contributing financially to Vessel's outreach efforts, donations may be made via Vessel's fiscal sponsor, Women Make Movies, by following the link below.  Thank you!


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Community Screenings



Upcoming screenings

Date Venue
Oct 17 1:30 PM Berlin, Germany Heinrich Böll Foundation
Oct 18 8:15 PM Arlington, MA Arlington International Film Festival Buy Tickets
Oct 22 7:00 PM Brunswick, ME Frontier Cinema
Oct 24 1:00 PM Stanford, CA UNAFF Buy Tickets
Oct 31 8:00 PM Zürich, Switzerland TBD
Nov 6 12:00 AM Amsterdam, Netherlands University of Amsterdam / Atrium
Nov 15 3:00 PM Malmö, Sweden RFSU
Nov 18 4:30 PM Waterloo, Canada Princess Twin Cinema
Nov 19 8:20 PM Waterloo, Canada Princess Twin Cinema
Nov 20 7:00 PM Devon, PA Main Line Unitarian Church
Nov 21 6:00 PM Tübingen, Germany Film Festival Women's Worlds Buy Tickets
Apr 14 6:00 PM Louisville, KY First Unitarian Church



Interested in hosting a screening of Vessel? Nonprofits, student groups, activists and educators have hosted hundreds of screenings of Vessel around the world, using the screenings as events to raise awareness of and resources for their own work in reproductive rights and justice.

To host a screening in the United States or Canada, or for any questions about hosting and acquiring public performance rights, please visit our distributor’s site HERE or write to

To host a screening outside of North America, please write to:


Over 200 screenings have been booked worldwide!  Check to see if there is an upcoming screening in your community HERE.

Vessel map

Get On Board



World Sales:
Philippa Kowarsky | Cinephil | +972 3 566 4129  |

Christina Yugai | FilmBuff | 212.463.6403 |

Screenings and Educational Sales:
Jeff Tamblyn | Kino Lorber | 212.629.6880  |

Diana Whitten | Vessel |

Kayla Keller | Fitzgibbon Media | 281.682.6212  |

Photos by Diana Whitten and Cedric Zoenen
Poster art by Empty the Sunrise