Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Twin Sisters: Separated but Profoundly Linked
is hard to imagine how a parent could ever abandon two good kids like Mia and
Alexandra, but China’s draconian One Child policy and the extreme rural poverty
force people to do desperate things. At least they were each adopted into
loving homes—that is each of them separately. Evidently, the orphanage thought
they stood a better chance of adoption individually, rather than as a package
deal. However, through the intercession of fate, the sisters would maintain not
just an awareness, but also a love for each other, despite living on opposite
sides of the Earth. Mona Friis Bertheussen documents their indomitable bond in Twin Sisters (trailer here), which airs this
Monday as part of the current season of Independent Lens.
2003, the Hauglums from Norway and the Hansens from Sacramento came to China to
adopt a baby girl. The Norwegian group was supposed to be gone by the time the
American adoptees arrived, but events conspired to delay the Hauglums.
Suddenly, they were amazed to see the Hansens holding a little girl, who was
the spitting image of their Alexandra. Despite the orphanage’s denials, they exchanged
contact information and eventually performed a DNA test, but it would hardly be
necessary as the girls got older. Seriously, look at them.
there are cultural and linguistic barriers, both girls grow up feeling a deep connection
to each, even though they had never really met. Eventually, the parents arrange
to visit each other and are rather staggered by the girls’ similar mannerisms
the twins’ situation is imperfect, since they would dearly wish to live
together, but their respective parents are good people, who do the best they
can. Frankly, that is quite nice to see in a documentary, for a change. For
sociologists, there is probably plenty of nature versus nurture grist as well,
but most viewers will just be charmed by the sweet tempered girls themselves.
to Bertheussen for making Sisters,
because its European festival screenings served as another catalyst to bring
together the twins. However, there is a conspicuous lack of follow-up with
respects to the orphanage. Many viewers might like to see her try to get some
bureaucrat there to admit on-camera they flat-out lied, as the Hansens and Hauglums
can prove. Instead, she maintains her focus on the families, preferring a
humanist vibe over potential confrontations.
Consequently, Twin Sisters is a sensitive film that borders on outright
feel-goodism. Bertheussen’s young subjects are more than engaging enough to
sustain the film, convincing viewers China’s loss will be America and Norway’s considerable
gain. Recommended for those in search of wholesome family viewing, Twin Sisters airs this Monday (10/20) on
most PBS outlets nationwide.
Labels: Documentary, Independent Lens