Monday, January 25, 2010
Nicole Opper's OFF AND RUNNING covers adoption, track, color, class & sexuality
Documentarian Nicole Opper, shown below, explores so much (see headline above) in her new -- and very short (75-minute) -- movie OFF AND RUNNING that my reactions are split. I am grateful to have had the chance to meet this fascinating family: two white lesbian moms and their three adopted children -- the mixed-race Rafi (about to head for college); black Avery, just finishing high school and a budding track star; and their adorable little Korean brother, nicknamed Zay-Zay. But the final film seems to demand a longer, maybe more ragged but telling version: one that is not so cleaned-up and precise as what we have here.
Let's not do that "gift horse" thing: What we get is thought-provoking, entertaining and moving enough. Just knowing that such a family ex-
ists -- and that its parents are rai-
sing this fine group of kids -- is exhilarating and hopeful. Ms Opper gives us some (though not enough for me) background on and conver-
sations with her two moms, each with her own adopted child, who met and formed their own bond and then adopted a third child together.
When we enter this history, daughter Avery (below) is about to make her first effort to contact -- with some success -- her birth mother and will soon discover that her original name was Mycole Antoinysha. Though she excels at track, and is bright and popular, "For years," she tells us, "I've felt out of place around black people." Her best friend at school, also of color, is an adoptee as well.
American Family situation like we got with the Louds some decades back? I wouldn't want that, either. So I'll be simply be grateful for what the movie gives us -- which is never less than riveting -- while realizing again how a good fictional account can fill in and expand a film's proceed-
ings to encompass the weirdness and the vagaries of "real life."
First Run Features -- this Friday, January 29, in New York City at the IFC Center. You can find further playdates, theatres and cities here.
All photos are from the films itself (except that of Ms Opper) and come courtesy of First Run Features.