Follow five Korean adoptees on their journeys to reconnect with their birth country and piece together their past.
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Thank you everyone for your incredible support! We are grateful to all of our backers for making our campaign such a huge success!
About the Project
My name is Deann Borshay Liem and I’m a documentary filmmaker and Korean adoptee. While traveling around the world with my previous films, First Person Plural and In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee, I met hundreds of Korean adoptees from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Canada. I’ve had the tremendous privilege of hearing countless stories from adoptees of all ages – sometimes heartbreaking, oftentimes funny and ironic, always inspiring. These stories cover the gamut of life experiences – from stories about searching for identity and belonging; to stories of love, loss, and discovery; to questions about “who am I” and “how did I get here?”
Geographies of Kinship presents a small handful of the amazing stories I’ve heard from around the world. We meet, for example, Estelle Cooke-Sampson, a bi-racial adoptee who revisits the orphanage where she grew up until she was adopted by an African American soldier at the age of seven. She wonders how the nuns felt about having a black child in the 1950s. Emma Anderson is a Swedish adoptee who visits Korea for the first time and unexpectedly reunites with her birth mother, discovering family secrets along the way. Meanwhile, Michael Holloway is in San Francisco when he meets his birth family via webcam on a live television show. He is shocked to discover he has an identical twin. These, and other riveting stories, serve as a springboard for exploring the history of transnational adoptions from Korea, from the 1950s to the present.
We have already started development of the project, collected some archival material and shot some interviews. I was thrilled recently to receive development funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities which is now enabling us to complete archival footage research, write a script, consult with scholars and experts, and edit a fundraising reel. We will be done with these important steps in the Fall.
We are now asking for contributions via Kickstarter so that we can continue our momentum and complete the production (shooting) phase of the film by following our film’s participants on their individual journeys. Your support will help us get all the elements we need for the film so we can actually start editing and make what I know will be a fantastic film.
Why another adoption film?
The truth is that I’m obsessed and fascinated with adoption and all the questions about family and identity that it poses in our global world. And, while I’ve already made two films about Korean adoption, there are fascinating elements of Korea’s adoption story that remain unexplored, particularly related to the historical, social, and ethical underpinnings of Korea’s adoption practice and the legacies of transnational adoption policies on adoptees today.
Too, it is an absolute delight and thrill to meet and talk with my counterparts around the globe. In hearing stories from adoptees who grew up in Sweden, France, Denmark, Switzerland and other countries, several things struck me – one is that we all have Korean faces but speak different languages and are assimilated into each of our cultural milieus. The other is that, with the help of the Internet, Korean adoptees have formed a global “diaspora” that is vibrant and on the vanguard of addressing issues around assimilation, cultural/racial identity, and family formation.
Listening to other adoptees’ stories and exploring the historical underpinnings of Korean adoption has really helped me to understand myself and place my own experience in a broader context. This has helped me toward reconciliation and healing and my hope is that sharing these stories will help others as well. Regardless of where we are in the adoption journey, my hope is that this film will help give voice to experiences that are sometimes just too difficult to put into words, and allow all of us to reflect on universal questions of identity, assimilation, kinship and belonging.
As you can see from the trailer, we’ve already shot some key moments with our participants. But we’re not done yet. We still need to:
• finish following stories from Europe to round out the global context of this international phenomenon;
• explore the incredible international Korean adoptee diasporic community;
• complete shooting elements from the stories we’ve been following already, including scenes for Estelle, Michael, Kathy, Emma and Nicolas & Antoine;
• shoot additional interviews to represent the full chronology of adoptions, from the Korean War to the present.
How you can help!
By backing our project, you will be instrumental in helping us make this film! Your support will help us cover the following costs of production:
• Travel, lodging & ground transportation for location shooting
• Personnel costs including camera person, sound recordist, associate producer, PAs
• Equipment rentals including camera and lights
• Production & liability insurance
Your contribution is also tax-deductible! Our production company, Mu Films, is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.
In addition to your contributions, we really need help getting the word out! Please, tell your friends, send them this link, and suggest they "like" Mu Films on Facebook. Here are some useful links:
Kudos to Our Outreach Partners
We are thrilled that 21 adoption-related and other organizations from around the world are supporting the film and our Kickstarter campaign as Outreach Partners! You will hear more about our partners in future updates, but for now I just want to give a shout out to the groups who have joined us so far – thank you! We could not do this without your support!
Adopterade Koreaners Forening (Stockholm), AdopSource (Minneapolis), AK Connection (Minneapolis), Also-Known-As, Inc. (NYC), Arierang: Dutch Association for Korean Adoptees (Amsterdam), Asian Adult Adoptees of Washington (Seattle), Assoc. of Korean Adoptees San Francisco, Assoc. of Korean Adoptes So-Cal, Boston Korean Adoptees, Center for Asian American Media (San Francisco), Chinese Adoptees Link, Global Overseas Adoptees Link (Seoul), IKAA: International Korean Adoptee Associations (Seattle), Ko-Root (Seoul), InKAS - International Korean Adoptee Services (Seoul), Korea Klubben (Copenhagen), Korean Focus (Metro DC/Cincinnati/Seattle/Indiana/Pittsburgh), Korea Quarterly (Mineapolis), Korean Adoptees of the Hawaiian Islands (Honolulu), KAAN: the Korean American Adoptee Adoptive Family Network (Camp Hill, PA), and Mixed Roots Foundation (San Francisco).
If your organization would like to join our campaign as an Outreach Partner, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
How it works
Kickstarter is all or nothing. We must receive the minimum required for our production in order to receive any of the pledges at all, which means your credit card will not be charged for the amount you specify unless we get all $75,000 or more in funding by July 31. If you have problems with the payment system here, please email us at email@example.com and we'll figure out an alternative payment method.
Thanks for considering our project!
More Details on the Rewards
Note: the final DVD and poster of Geographies of Kinship is expected to be complete in March 2014. However, any other rewards, such as books, mp3s, and DVDs of Deann's previous films, will be sent out in August 2012.
Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.