To help you answer basic questions that may arise during discussion, here is a bit of background on the films. You can find extended descriptions of each film and background material on the central issues raised in each film on the POV website by clicking on the film titles below.
IN THE MATTER OF CHA JUNG HEE
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? The feature length (63-minute) film In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee depicts Deann Borshay Liem’s search to find the answers. In this follow-up to First Person Plural (POV 2000), the filmmaker returns to her native Korea to find her “double,” the mysterious girl whose place she took in the United States. Traversing the landscapes of memory and identity, Liem uncovers layers of misinformation in her adoption as she probes the cost of living with someone else’s identity.
WO AI NI MOMMY
Wo Ai Ni (I Love You) Mommy, a feature-length (76-minute) documentary, follows the Sadowskys, a Jewish family from Long Island, New York, as they journey to China to adopt 8-year-old Fang Sui Yong. Sui Yong’s is not an entirely unique story. There are now approximately 70,000 Chinese adoptees being raised in the United States. What is unusual here, however, is that viewers witness Sui Yong’s first encounters with her new parents and her sometimes unsettling shift from being Chinese to identifying herself as an American.
This film is an honest and intimate portrait of loss and gain. As an outreach tool it raises important questions about cultural preservation, transracial and international adoption, parenting, family and what it means to be an American, what it means to be Chinese and what it means to be white.
OFF AND RUNNING
The challenges of soul-searching and growth are magnified when one’s personal story includes multiple heritages. Off and Running, a feature-length (76-minute) film, documents one such story. With white Jewish lesbians for parents and two adopted brothers — one mixed-race and one Korean — Brooklyn track star Avery grew up in a unique and loving household. But when, as a teenager, she becomes increasingly curious about her African-American roots, she decides to contact her birth mother. This choice propels Avery into a complicated exploration of race, identity and family that threatens to distance her from her parents. She starts skipping school and staying away from home, risking her shot at the college track career that had long been her dream. But when Avery decides to pick up the pieces of her life and make sense of her identity, the results are inspiring.
Off and Running follows Avery to the brink of adulthood, exploring the strength of family bonds and the lengths some people must go to become themselves.
NEXT: Workshop for Adoptees