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Live Chat with Avery and Filmmaker Nicole Opper

Avery Klein-Cloud and filmmaker Nicole Opper talked with viewers in our live chat on Wednesday, Sept. 8 at 2 PM ET. Replay the chat to see what they had to say.



POV: Thanks for joining us for this live chat! Avery Klein-Cloud and filmmaker Nicole Opper will be here at 2:00 to answer your questions.

POV: We'll be getting started in just a few minutes - but if you like, please go ahead and enter your questions. We'll hold them in the queue and they will be published by the moderator as the session goes on.

POV: Hi everyone! And welcome, Avery and Nicole!

Nicole Opper: Hello!

Avery Klein-Cloud: Hi and thanks for having us!

Comment From Roberta
Hi back at you.

POV: Ok, let's get started with a question for Avery.

Comment From Elizabeth
Avery...what are your thoughts on adoption? Would you yourself adopt a child? I love the story of your family. I hope all is well with you and your family.

Avery Klein-Cloud: i am all for adoption. I think it's great to adopt kids..

Avery Klein-Cloud: regardless if it is from the USA or anywhere else but I don't think I coud adopt or give my child up for adoption.

Comment From Erin
If you were in a position to adopt transracially, would you do it? Do you feel that since you were transracially adopted, you would be in a better position to shepherd your children through the journey you experienced?

Comment From Renee
Why didn't the film maker ask the white adoptive moms about their views on raising children of color? Did they consider the kids need for racial identity development as they grew up? Did they attempt to help them to make friends with other children of color early on? Do THEY have any friends of color? What does it mean for them to be white?

Nicole Opper: I'll wait for Avery's response to Erin before moving on to Renee.

Avery Klein-Cloud: I most likely wouldn't adopt at all but if I did I may be able to guide my children through it easier but it is hard regarldess.

Nicole Opper: Renee: Avery's moms and I had many discussions about this and the answer is yes, they were very considerate (and continue to be) of their childrens needs. However, perspectives sometimes differed between the moms and Avery and the goal of the film was to share Avery's point of view.

Comment From Chanel
Avery, My question is while growing up, did your moms expose you to any african american culture? Did they have black friends?

Comment From Jeannie Powell
I loved the documentary. Good luck to you Avery!!!

Avery Klein-Cloud: My moms did try to introduce into our culture but it is hard since they have to put themselves into that culture as well. We were on a mainly african american track team but we did not hang out with them a lot. We did have some african american friends but a lot of them were adopted and went through the same issues in their teen years. But they did try

Comment From Guest
This film was one of the best things I've ever seen on the P.O.V. series. It was such a complex story with so many angles, and all covered quite beautifully. Thank you, Avery, for letting us peer into your life and the life of your family.

Comment From Caroline
Nicole, Congrats on such a great film! Was this your first film? What are you working on now.

Nicole Opper: Thanks, Caroline! Yes, Off and Running is my first feature length film as a director. Right now I'm joining you all from Atlixco, Puebla, where I am hard at work on a documentary about an innovative and successful group home for abandoned youth. As soon we we wrap up here I will head back for more shooting!

Nicole Opper: The name of the home is IPODERAC for those of you interested in looking it up on the web.

POV: Thanks, Nicole! Another question for you.

Comment From Megan
Nicole- what prompted the making of this film? What's your family history?

Nicole Opper: I come from a pretty traditional family - a mom, a dad and a younger brother. And a dog.... but I am a gay Jewish woman interested in adopting children, so this story is very personal for me.

Comment From Amy Linton
This film was so beautiful, poetic and moving; the story could not have been more compelling if it was scripted. Thank you for making this film! I think it's a very important film as family makeups evolve, and covered so many angles of such a complex story with such sensitivity. For Nicole and Avery: How did you meet and when did you realize that there was a film here?

Avery Klein-Cloud: Nicole was making a film on Hannah Sennesh...

Nicole Opper: Thank you for such a lovely review, Amy! Yes, Avery, please answer this one.

Avery Klein-Cloud: the woman that my elementary school was named after and she came to the school to talk to the students and find out what we knew about Hannah Sennesh..

Avery Klein-Cloud: I guess she ended up loving us so much that she started an after school film class and I was one of her students...

Avery Klein-Cloud: After I left the school and went on to high- school, I always came back and visited and stayed in touch...

Avery Klein-Cloud: I guess the rest of the question is for you Nicole about realizing there was a film there.

Nicole Opper: OK, nice teamwork. I realized there was a film when Avery began to discuss some of the identity issues she was facing. I was curious personally, and saw in Avery an incredibly compelling character. So we began to make this film, and it was very much a partnership, I think. Would you agree with that, Avery?

Avery Klein-Cloud: Yup!!! sounds right to me!

Comment From Sara
What was the biggest challenge in making the film? It took a long time to make, right?

Avery Klein-Cloud: All yours Nicole

Nicole Opper: It took us about three years, but this was expected, as the point was to show a coming-of-age process.

Comment From Amy Linton
Was the film about Hannah Senesh ever finished? And Avery, I see that you are listed as co-writer. Do you think you will continue to be involved in filmmaking?

Nicole Opper: In terms of challenges, the greatest was lack of communication between myself and Avery about a third of the way through filming. She sort of needed to have her space. But when she returned to the film she was more committed and invested than ever, which I hope is apparent to viewers.

Avery Klein-Cloud: I don't think I will be involved in anymore filmmaking. I think I had enough!!..

Comment From Fausto
I wanted to thank Nicole for the film it was very touching. Avery, thank you for letting us in to your life and struggles, good luck in life.

Nicole Opper: The name of the short student doc about Hannah Senesh is SONG OF HANNAH and is distributed by the National Center for Jewish Film.

Comment From Steve
Hi, loved the show! What was the reaction of your college classmates to the documentary?

Comment From Ronda
Unfortunately, I did not finish viewing this documentary, but what I did see was engaging.

Avery Klein-Cloud: But I am a co- writer because I helped in the editing room and made decisions on the film.

Nicole Opper: Thank you, Fausto. And Avery: I think you have a great future in film :)

Comment From Ronda
I hope Avery keeps running.

Avery Klein-Cloud: I know you do Nicole!!!!! I will consider something in the TV world but I don't I will be a filmmaker

Avery Klein-Cloud: My college classmates..

Avery Klein-Cloud: Well some of them saw the film, the ones that were close to me, and a lot of them were proud and surprised that I had been through a lot and made it through.

Comment From Megan
Avery- what are you up to now? How's college? Track?

Avery Klein-Cloud: Track is still working it's way back up. I just finished my first year at Del State U. but due to budget cuts everyone on the team lost some money so I was not able to return this year...

Comment From Paul
I just wanted to say that Off and Running was amazing!!! Thank you Avery for letting us into your life in such an intimate way, thank you Nicole for putting together such a wonderful film. It was my first POV experience and one i will not soon forget. I was especially moved by how much love there is between the siblings, It reminded me a lot of when my sister when off to college and I had a hard time adjusting. Keep up the great work Nicole & Avery good luck with your life journey!!

Nicole Opper: Thanks, Paul.

Avery Klein-Cloud: So now I am working and saving up money so that I am able to start community college hopefully in January and if not in the fall which will allow me to get another scholarship to another school for the last 2 years of school and maybe grad school.

Avery Klein-Cloud: Thanks Paul!!!!!

Comment From Damaris Nicholson
Avery, we shared your story last night to about 200 guests and it was very powerful. Do you think love is enough to raise children who are of a different race and to Nicole, what are your thoughts on color-blindness?

Avery Klein-Cloud: I think love is more than enough to raise children...

Nicole Opper: I think color-blindness is misguided and needs to be corrected. We live in a society where race and racism is a huge issue, to ignore the issue is to do a disservice to those who are more affected by it. That said, I get where it comes from. Open and honest discussion is the best way to make progress, in the world of adoption, but of course, in general as well! What do you think?

Avery Klein-Cloud: I feel that is why my family and I are so close and strong enough to make it through the problem that we did have. Love holds it all together.

Comment From Melissa
Hello Avery Hello Nicole.....I watched the film this morning and was touched. I wanted to know , now that you are older Avery have you and your moms gotten close again? I hope everyone is well.

Avery Klein-Cloud: My moms and I are not as close as we used to be but we are much better than we were at one point in the film...

Avery Klein-Cloud: We are working on building our relationship and getting close again.

Comment From Steve
Have you heard from your birth family, and do you think or hope they watched the documentary?

Avery Klein-Cloud: Since the last letter that I wrote my birth mom, I have not heard from her...

Comment From Julie W.
Just wanted to say that I loved that film and wish films like this would reach more people. Avery and Nicole - I think you're both very brave women.

Avery Klein-Cloud: It has been a little over 3 years since I have heard from her.

Avery Klein-Cloud: Thanks Julie!

Comment From Jeff Mead
Nicole and Avery, I am an adoptive father and filmmaker and have seen many films on adoption. I'm also working on one from the father's perspective. This is one of the best films on adoption I've seen. Kudos to you both! Avery, how is Zay-Zay? Are your parents taking an interest in Korean culture and helping him in identity development?

Comment From melissa
"I'm so glad to hear that......family is everything. Good luck Avery.

Nicole Opper: Thanks, Julie. And hello, Jeff! I believe I've heard about your film.

Avery Klein-Cloud: Zay- Zay is great!! He just started school yesterday at a new school and apparently they started off the day great by everyone waking up at the sound of the school bu honking its horn outside. Typical school morning!!!

Comment From Ina Maria
Thanks both of you for this beautiful story. Nicole: Was it hard to get funding for the film?

Avery Klein-Cloud: my parents do try to intruduce him into his culture...

Avery Klein-Cloud: food wise, and other things but it is a hard thing to do.

Comment From Debra
Avery, thank you for sharing your life and struggles with a film audience. You are a magnficent young woman. I only want to wish you shana tova. I hope you'll be with your beautiful family to welcome the New Year.

Nicole Opper: We were very lucky to receive most of our funding from the Independent Television Service for this film. Also the Foundation for Jewish Culture and the National Black Programming Consortium pitched in.

Avery Klein-Cloud: I also don't believe he is at the identity stage but he does know his background and understand that he is korean.

Avery Klein-Cloud: Thanks Debra

Comment From Becky
Avery--I'm mom to seven (yes, I said seven) adopted black children. Three from Ghana in West Africa, and four from the U.S. (adopted at birth via an agency). All my kids have varying levels of openess with their birth moms. We let their birth moms comfort level, and our children's comfort level, dictate their relationship. If you had any advice for us, as white parents, trying to maintain a good, open relationship for our children with their birth families...what would you say? I know you have this strong desire to know your birth family. Sometimes it is difficult for us (as parents) to maintain these relationships. Any advice on what you would have liked as a child?

Nicole Opper: L'shana tova to Debra and all who are celebrating!

Avery Klein-Cloud: That is hard for me to answer because I never really had a strong consistent relationship with my birth family ...

Comment From Michael Emery
A native from rainy Austin TX, I'd like to say that OFF AND RUNNING is looks to be truly relevant to American youths and ought to be assigned as classroom viewing all across the nation. While Avery's story is unique, it enables the audience to focus on some universal questions about identity and purpose. My wife was raised in The Bronx, and would also relate well to Avery's tale. When are ya'll coming this way?

Comment From Roberta
@Avery, often "peer pressure" is seen as a negative, but Prince and your other friends from Erasmus were very positive at a very complex time in your life. Are you still close to them?

Avery Klein-Cloud: Nicole that question is for you!!!

Comment From Roberta
I want to take the opportunity to "big up" Prince and Avery's other friends from Erasmus. They are very positive young people. Too often the media highlights the negativity among today's youth, especially youth of color.

Nicole Opper: I believe there was a community screening hosted by various social service agencies in Austin yesterday! But we'll be back again one day!

Avery Klein-Cloud: I am still close with Prince, He is still the boyfriend after 3 years and working on it...

Avery Klein-Cloud: I am close with the kids from erasmus closer with others than some but still maintain a relationship with all of them,.

Avery Klein-Cloud: .

Comment From Patricia
As a parent, I found the film very heartbreaking but in the end, love and family prevailed. Thank you Nicole for making Off and Running. Avery, I think you learned a lot about yourself during the whole process and I wonder if there is anything you could have done differently.

Nicole Opper: I hope we make it into classrooms across the country, Michael. This was our dream from the beginning. And I would like to mention that we worked with high school youth throughout the making of the film, asking for feedback on rough cuts. This is an important audience for us.

POV: And just a note - POV has a lesson plan and a discussion guide for OFF AND RUNNING. We hope you find them useful!

Comment From Adan & Keisha
the film really showed that your family has a lot of love, no matter that you are all of different races. Keep that love in all of your relationships.... the world truly needs love.

Nicole Opper: Thanks, Roberta! Prince, Jenna, Darren, Molly, and other friends of Avery who appear in this film deserve this applause. They are fabulous young people and good friends.

Comment From Damaris Nicholson
@ Nicole-I live in Austin and yes we hosted this film at the Paramount last night. We have been asked to have more screenings on this film and hopefully we can make this happen. There was also discussion about incorporating this film into our training curriculum for adoptive parents. That's how much of an impact this had. Thank you Avery for being so brave and sharing your story and to Nicole you put together an amazing story about racial and ethnic identify.

Comment From Christina
I'm late to the chat so I don't know if anyone asked about the role of your teachers... Do you think (since I'm a hs teacher) there's any way I should "look out" for students who are adopted?

Comment From Amy Linton
Since my local PBS station didn't run this last night, I think we're very fortunately that PBS and POV have made this film available online. I plan to share it with many friends.

Nicole Opper: Wow, thanks, Damaris! And thanks to POV for organizing the screening as well. Wish I could have been a fly on the wall!

Avery Klein-Cloud: I don't think that adopted kids need to be looked out for. We are like any other kid except we are adopted. All children go through an identtity crisis but ours just may be a little more intense. So I don't believe that we need special attention.

Comment From Jeannie
Avery, I loved the documentary and am so sorry you had to endure the pain of growing up not knowing your family roots. Even-though you were blessed to have loving parents, it's not the same. I can relate to the issues of adolescence that you went through, as I myself was a teen mom. You are a very strong young woman, who have, and will continue to inspire many. Good luck to you.

Avery Klein-Cloud: Thanks Jeannie!!!!!

Comment From Debra
How is your brother at Princeton? You two seemed to share a special bond. It had its moments of trouble. I hope you've reunited in a way that works for both of you.

Comment From Christina
Good point. Lots Philly love coming at you and the filmmakers!

Avery Klein-Cloud: My brother is great!!! he starts his senior year at Princeton next week which is exciting for me....

Comment From Adan
My daughter and I watched you film this am. we saw many similarities to our life. she ran track in school she is black and her brother is half black half white and her other brother is half koren.

Avery Klein-Cloud: We are going to be going to a showing of the film together at a high- school near Princeton sometime soon which should be nice and we are getting closer.

Comment From Sarah
This question is for Nicole (and Avery of course)- during the film Avery went through a lot regarding her personal identity. Were there any trust issues going on between you as the filmmaker having access to Avery's personal life during this time?

Comment From Joel
Awesome film, I know it must have been hard to have such internal struggles documented. thanks for putting your story out there though, for those of us who are adopted also and have those same kind of questions.. where did I come from, etc

Avery Klein-Cloud: I trusted Nicole but I did need space sometimes.

Comment From Steph
Avery, Do you think part of the "struggle" you went through was just part of being a teenager? I just remember those years of life being extra hard... (Although I don't want to dismiss the bigger issue of transracial adoption and the fact that you had some desire to connect with your biological mom)

Nicole Opper: We maintained trust by speaking openly and often. We've also known each other for a long time now. But I could usually sense what would be comfortable for Avery, or so she says! And Avery is a strong woman, she speaks up when she wants to.

Comment From Nitza (via Facebook)
very eye opening. really enjoyed this documentary.

Comment From Hope Levav (via Facebook)
avery was my student for three years. nicole has made a gorgeous film and everyone should tune in...

Avery Klein-Cloud: Yes, I do believe that i was going a little crazy because I was a teen but trying to find my birth mom and getting turned down was probably just a little too much for me to handle all at the time.

Avery Klein-Cloud: Hi Hope!!!!!!

Nicole Opper: Hi Hope!!

POV: We've got time for one more question.

Comment From Amy Ford
Nicole, do you have any plans to make the film available through private and public adoption agencies to distribute to adoptive parents? They need to see this.

Comment From Lynrie
I hope Avery keeps looking forward and run toward the so many positives on her path, an education, track and a wonderful life! Maybe even do a follow up documentary of her Journey!

Comment From Amy Ford
Avery! You are an amazing young woman! I am the white lesbian mother of 3 African American daughters, all under the age of 8. I cried my eyes out the first time I saw the movie. Thank you for sharing your story!

Nicole Opper: I would agree - the struggle of this film is in many ways universal but we did try to emphasize some of the experiences specific to transracial adoption as well.

Nicole Opper: Amy: POV has been working on an incredible national outreach campaign for this very purpose. The other two films in ADOPTION STORIES will be made available to agencies as well. We're very excited about this.

POV: Thanks, Avery and Nicole!

Nicole Opper: Yes, Avery, why don't you do a follow-up documentary? ? ?

POV: Good question! We'll be keeping an eye out for that.

Nicole Opper: Thanks for joining, everyone! Keep checking www.offandrunningthefilm.com.

POV: Thanks for joining us today.

Avery Klein-Cloud: I am so ok with not doing that!!!

Avery Klein-Cloud: Thanks everyone!!!!!

POV: Don't forget that you can watch the film online in its entirety and find out more about adoption on the POV website: http://www.pbs.org/pov/offandrunning/

Comment From Debra
Bravo!

Comment From Amy Ford
Wonderful!

Avery Klein-Cloud: I hope everyone enjoyed the film and you can keep up with the blog that will be starting soon!!!

Comment From Amy Ford
YES to the follow up!

Comment From Amy Linton
Thank you for spending time with us! Good luck on your shoot, Nicole! Continued success to you both!

POV: Next Tuesday on POV, watch the final film of our 3-part adoption series: In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee http://www.pbs.org/pov/chajunghee/

Comment From Robin
Bye! Thank you!





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