Infant mortality has been high on the priority lists of many of this community’s leaders. The Commercial Appeal has published several articles over the last two years explaining that Memphis has the highest infant mortality rate in the country, specifically in the zip code of 38108.
Premiering on WKNO, a new documentary by award-winning local filmmakers David Appleby and Craig Leake. Beyond Babyland – a film three years in the making – explores the issue, asks why Memphis has such a legacy, and looks at many of the people and organizations working to turn around this tide and make a positive impact in our community.
The film goes to the heart of the problem, exploring three of the city’s poorest zip codes and meeting the people living there. It’s a difficult film to watch, pulling no punches as it seeks to understand the culture of poverty and teen pregnancy that contributes to this health crisis.
Both Craig Leake and David Appleby felt this film was a way to explore an issue of national importance while looking at some of the most basic problems of poverty in the Mid-South. Said Leake “Sometimes when we talk about the poor population, it’s easy to say that it’s their own fault. It’s harder to say that when you look at infants just trying to make it to their first birthday.”
“We like to talk about One Memphis,” said David Appleby, “but the reality is that we’re not all in the same boat. Some people need more help than others. The question for us is, where is that help going to come from?”
Appleby and Leake are both accomplished filmmakers with The University of Memphis, having won several prestigious filmmaking awards: Emmys, George Foster Peabody Awards, CINE Golden Eagles, among others. Two of Appleby’s award-winning films - At the River I Stand and Hoxie: The First Stand – have aired on WKNO. Leake’s recent film The Chemo Ate My Homework also aired on WKNO.