Wednesday, November 25, 2020

France, surrogacy and a pair of gay would-be parents in Jonathon Narducci's lovely doc, GHOSTS OF THE RÉPUBLIQUE

Who knew? But I supposed we ought to have been able to figure it out: France, that storied land of liberté, égalité, fraternité proves not quite that if you're gay. And god help you if you want to be a parent and perhaps use a surrogate. Initially, the title of the new film, GHOSTS OF THE RÉPUBLIQUE, sounded to me like some French political documentary, and it turns out to be exactly that. But hardly in the manner I had imagined. 

Surrogacy is illegal in France, and the film's title actually refers to the offspring of a surrogate mother, who, when that child is brought back to France by his French parents, is refused French citizenship. France is still, it would seem, far too Catholic a country. And God, as we all know, absolutely condemns surrogacy. Oy.

The movie's very able director, Jonathon Narducci (shown at right) is not making a case for the wonders of (or how wonderful is) surrogacy. In fact, he includes a hefty section of the film in which a woman fighting against this practice explains the various reasons why she feels it is not healthy. 

Adoption by gay or lesbian parents
, though not illegal in France, has certainly not been made easy, and what happens when a gay couple would like one member's sperm to be involved in the birth? So, yes, surrogacy. And that's the journey -- from France to Las Vegas and back again several times -- on which Mr. Narducci and his several heroes and heroines take us.

cannot imagine any better subjects than the gay couple -- Nicolas and Aurelien (shown above and below) -- together with their quite lovely egg donor (Diana, above, right) and surrogate (Crystal, below, right). One of the things we learn from the film is why it is less problematic to have the egg donor and surrogate as separate women. When so many things, from the state itself to the rigors and risks involved in pregnancy (let alone surrogacy), seem to conspire against the best outcome, the road ahead is pretty fraught.

Since every last publicity photo available (include even the poster image) doubles as a spoiler, I must apologize in advance. Still, the journey is a fascinating and very moving one. These are people you'll come to know and love every bit as much as you would in any lengthy narrative movie. 

As a bisexual man who was lucky enough have had a child with his first wife, and who grew up in a time when the very idea of gay marriage seemed utterly impossible -- prison and/or shock treatments were the "remedies" for homosexuality in my coming-of-age era -- I would have found the idea of gay marriage, let alone parenting and surrogacy, ridiculously far-fetched. 

Yet Ghosts of the République makes it all seem not simply real but pretty damned wonderful. It would be salutary to learn, in a few years' time, how all of the parties involved feel then about the whole process. In the meantime, we, as they, can exult in the glories of the here and now. The world, including France, has a long way to go toward real liberté, égalité and fraternité. But it is worth acknowledging that we seem to have come quite a distance already.

From Gravitas Ventures and running just 81 minutes, the documentary arrived on VOD and streaming venues last week and is available for purchase and/or rental nearly everywhere now. Click here and scroll down to see many of the current venues. (This documentary, by the way is both narrated and executive-produced by gay activist and writer Dan Savage.)

No comments: