Donor Unknown

"Excellent"

Donor Unknown Review


With a relaxed, personal approach, this documentary tells a story that can't help but draw us in as it follows engaging people as they discover an unusual connection between them. And besides being entertaining, the film has an emotional kick.

Teenager JoEllen grew up without a father, fantasising about what he might be like. So she decided to find him through the sperm bank her mother Lucinda used. Before finding him, JoEllen registered to find any possible siblings.

Sure enough, she found Danielle in New York, and a story about their meeting landed on the front of the New York Times, triggering reactions from dozens of siblings all over the country. It was also seen by Donor 150 himself, Jeffrey, a free-spirited California beach bum living in a motor-home with dogs and pigeons.

Now 20, JoEllen narrates the film with an introspective honesty that's disarming, taking us on this journey with her. Meanwhile, we're also introduced to Jeffrey and his extraordinary, eccentric life. Now 52, he's happy to be off the grid, doing his own thing, and stunned by all of these children he fathered. Intriguingly, aside from the physical similarities, his biological children share his interest in philosophy and love of animals. And the filmmakers are present for key meetings between Jeffrey and his long-lost progeny.

Skilfully shot and edited, the film's intimate approach adds complexity to everyone on screen. Watching Jeffrey walking along the beach helping people is fascinating, as is seeing his donor profile report, written when he was 28. His quirky but articulate commentary is fascinating, as he describes his past as a stripper-gram and the reasons he decided to donate sperm, which went beyond making enough money to pay his rent for eight years.

It's remarkable to see these people find their common ground, even though they never imagined each other's existence. And these half-siblings discover a strong bond, changing the shape of their families in a rather wonderful way.

It's also intriguing to see them try to work out how Jeffrey fits into their extended network, because he's essentially the outsider. But best of all is how the filmmakers stay out of the way and let these people tell their own story.



Donor Unknown

Facts and Figures

Genre: Documentaries

In Theaters: Friday 3rd June 2011

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 91%
Fresh: 10 Rotten: 1

IMDB: 6.8 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Jerry Rothwell

Producer: Hilary Durman, Al Morrow

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