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Oct, 2010

POV on PBS: Adoption Stories

My GIANT apologies to my friends at PBS as I am writing this post WAY too late. I misunderstood the airing schedule and thought these amazing documentaries weren’t being broadcast until November and it turns out they aired on PBS in August and September but can be seen online through the end of November. Oops. My bad. I’m horrible with dates. 

Nevertheless, I wanted to put out a quick blurb to the blogosphere and let you all know that these are three documentaries about adoption that are worth watching. They are thought provoking and important. Most of you know that I was adopted from South Korea as an infant and have very strong opinions and views on international adoption, open adoption, single motherhood, trans-racial adoption and the many issues surrounding adoption, in general. Adoption is becoming a more and more “accepted” family building block in our American culture, but we often forget to ask the important and, sometimes, difficult questions: Who does adoption affect? How are individual lives changed? What is ethical when dealing with a transaction involving the transplantation of a human being?

I was honored to receive screening copies of each film and can honesty say that all three were moving, fascinating, informative, enlightening and more. I’m was also fortunate enough to have met the filmmakers and their film subjects during their press stop here in Los Angeles. They are proud of their films and I’m am really happy to be able to help get the word about their work.

Please take the time to go online to view and support these important documentaries. They will be available on the PBS website through November 30, 2010.

In The Matter Of Cha-Jung Hee

Filmmaker: Deann Borshay Liem
Synopsis (per PBS): Her passport said she was Cha Jung Hee. She knew she was not. So began a 40-year deception for a Korean adoptee who came to the United States in 1966. Told to keep her true identity secret from her new American family, the 8-year-old girl quickly forgot she had ever been anyone else. But why had her identity been switched? And who was the real Cha Jung Hee? In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee is the search to find the answers, as acclaimed filmmaker Deann Borshay Liem (First Person Plural, POV 2000) returns to her native Korea to find her “double,” the mysterious girl whose place she took in America

Wo Ai Ni (I Love You Mommy)

Filmmaker: Stephanie Wang-Breal
What is it like to be torn from your Chinese foster family, put on a plane with strangers and wake up in a new country, family and culture? Stephanie Wang-Breal’s Wo Ai Ni (I Love You) Mommyis the story of Fang Sui Yong, an 8-year-old orphan, and the Sadowskys, the Long Island Jewish family that travels to China to adopt her. Sui Yong is one of 70,000 Chinese children now being raised in the United States. Through her eyes, we witness her struggle with a new identity as she transforms from a timid child into someone that no one — neither her new family nor she — could have imagined.

Off And Running

Filmmaker: Nicole Opper

Off and Running tells the story of Brooklyn teenager Avery, a track star with a bright future. She is the adopted African-American child of white Jewish lesbians. Her older brother is black and Puerto Rican and her younger brother is Korean. Though it may not look typical, Avery’s household is like most American homes — until Avery writes to her birth mother and the response throws her into crisis. She struggles over her “true” identity, the circumstances of her adoption and her estrangement from black culture. Just when it seems as if her life is unraveling, Avery decides to pick up the pieces and make sense of her identity, with inspiring results.

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May, 2010

You'll Laugh, You'll Cry: Two Documentary Reviews

I love documentaries and I recently had the opportunity to see two awesome documentaries and I hope you will check them out too!

The first film I saw was the much hyped and super adorable, Babies. The fine people at mPRm Public Relations extended an invite for an early screening and I jumped at the chance. I had seen the trailer a few times and couldn’t wait for my chance to see it. And this is coming from a mom who is NOT a baby person!

I’m pleased to report that the documentary is as enjoyable and smile inducing as the trailer. Unless you’re a baby hater, I don’t know how one could not enjoy this film, however I do think parents will enjoy this film the most.

Through the static lens of the camera, director Thomas Balmes shows us the lives of four new humans in four different cultures – Mongolia, Namibia, Japan and the US (San Francisco). It is a true documentary, void of narration or backstory, as the director simply lets the babies’ actions speak for themselves. There’s really not much more too it as far as the description goes, but some the moments he and his crew manage to capture on film are truly breathtaking.

If this film taught me anything as a mother, it’s to stop worrying so much about my child’s development and to avoid overstimulating her. Yes, I live in Los Angeles and my daughter is growing up in a highly competitive and faced-paced environment. It’s important for her to keep up, but it’s just as important for her to just be sometimes. To let children be children. Aside from cultural differences, babies are same all over the world and this film does a beautiful job at displaying the universal truths of human nature.
Documentary number two was In The Matter of Cha Jung Hee – the follow up film to Deann Borshay Liem’s, First Person Plural. Deann is a fellow Korean adoptee and has become a personal friend over the years, but I assure you, even if you have no connection to the Korean adoptee community, you will find her story fascinating. I saw this particular screening as a part of the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival.

The brief backstory (without any spoilers) of Deann’s life, is that she was switched for another girl during the time of her adoption from Korea to the United states in the 1960s and told by Korean social workers not to reveal her true identity. The adoption was finalized and her adoptive, American family believed they were receiving the girl they had sponsored from abroad for so many years – Cha Jung Hee. In Liem’s first documentary, she tells the story of her adoption, her upbringing in California and the discovery of her falsified identity. It is in this first film that she goes in search of her true birth family in Korea.

In Liem’s new documentary, which isn’t a true sequel, but a companion or follow-up film, Liem battles cultural red tape and social barriers of Korea on a search for the woman who’s identity she has had almost her entire life – Cha Jung Hee. Honestly, I don’t want to say much more because the story is so compelling and one that she tells best. Furthermore, she tells her story with such candor and even humor, baring her emotions throughout the process so that you may take the journey with her, I guarantee you will not be disappointed.

While I believe viewing her earlier documentary, First Person Plural, beforehand offers a richer viewing experience, it is not necessary as Deann does cover the backstory of her adoption in the 2nd film. To learn more about her films and especially to make a donation to help fund her next documentary, Memories of Forgotten War , visit her production company’s site, MuFilms.org.

Happy movie watching! Have you seen any great ones lately?! Please let me know. I’m dying to see Food Inc.

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