300 so-called “Pipeline Babies” have become the new face of Putin’s
Russia. Often special needs children,
they had already met and begun forming relationships with their presumptive
American parents. However, as they
waited for the paperwork to be finalized, the Putin regime banned American
adoption as the latest salvo in his neo-Cold War. With no realistic prospects of Russian
adoption, it is the children who will suffer the most as a result, but looking
after the weak and the vulnerable was never the Russian strong man’s priority.
the filmmakers behind a new film documenting the complicated adjustment process
for three of the final (as of now) Russian orphans adopted by an American
family are using the Toronto premiere of their film to shine a spotlight on the
Pipeline Baby issue. Masha, Marcel, and
Vadim are not Pipeline children, but the Diazes might sometimes wish they were
during the rocky course of The Dark
Matter of Love (trailer
screens during the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival.
one child is a considerable undertaking.
Taking on three at once is rather daunting. Recognizing the potential challenges (at
least on an intellectual level), the Diaz family enlisted scientific help. Dr. Robert Marvin and his associate Nicole
Millirin will monitor and counsel the family, reviewing video footage that
would become part of this film. Masha is
a classic case of the emotionally guarded orphan who erects nearly impenetrable
protective walls around herself. In
contrast, the younger twins, Marcel and Vadim, indulge in the sort of histrionic
acting out also commonly observed in recently adopted children. Altogether, they are quite a handful, leaving
the Diaz parents little time for their biological teenage daughter, Cami.
much of the second act, viewers will be reminded of what they say about good
intentions. Nonetheless, Marvin and
Millirin offer the family some very constructive feedback. The authoritative Marvin also provides the
audience a lucid thumbnail sketch of the evolution of developmental psychology
over the last fifty-some years. Looking
a bit like Max von Sydow’s sensitive younger brother, Marvin is a reassuring presence,
who adds quite a bit to the film.
the documentary might have benefited from a bit more of Marvin and Millirin. While the Diazes are clearly good people with
strong values, ninety-three screening minutes is a long time to spend with
them. Indeed, Dark Matter could easily be whittled down to an hour for a later
some painful moments, Dark Matter will
leave viewers largely optimistic regarding the Diaz children’s future. It certainly never offers any inadvertent
justification for Putin’s iron-fisted American adoption ban. Considering Masha and the twins were adopted
just before the decree was passed, it is perfectly logical and appropriate for
McCarthy and her colleagues to take up the Pipeline Baby cause as part of their
awareness campaign. Millirin has even
sacrificed some privacy by announcing she happens to be a lesbian adoptive
mother, in protest of both the Russian government’s adoption ban and their
harsh new anti-gay laws. It is rather
incredible how much there is to be alarmed by in Putin’s Russia, such as the continuing
persecution of dissenting activists, like Pussy Riot. What a perfect spot to hold the Olympics.
Recommended for those interested in its family
development issues, The Dark Matter of
Love screens again today (9/9) and Friday (9/13) as part o this year’s
TIFF. Concerned viewers can also sign an
online petition on behalf of the over 300 affected children here.
Labels: Documentary, Pipeline Babies, Russian Adoption, TIFF '13