Reel Affirmations 2003
Rating: (3 out of 5)
Saturday, 10/18/2003, 2:30 PM
Feature presentation, $9 at Goethe Institut Inter Nationes
HAVING A CHILD — whether by choice or accident, conception or adoption — is a huge undertaking. It’s the monumental progression that allows one generation of humanity to follow the next. So how much of this experience can director Georg Hartmann offer in his 39-minute short? Plenty.
Granted, Hartmann is likely only skimming the surface of one gay man’s quest to be a daddy. While the chronicle may not be complete, audiences at least don’t have to suffer through any long, dull bits.
First, there is romance. Jeff and his partner, Dan, have been together for several years, living in mildly affluent L.A. domesticity. Don’t they look sweet together?
Second, there is conflict. Jeff feels his life is incomplete. Dan thinks everything is great. Jeff wants a baby like nobody’s business and seriously considers throwing Dan out with the bathwater if Dan is not of like mind.
With about 15 minutes remaining, there is the trip to Vietnam with two female friends in tow. The two straight-couples disguise seems to work and a new baby is soon on his way to a future in the Hollywood Hills.
One loose end might haunt viewers afterward. A color photo of a different baby on his desk — along with the baby that was eventually adopted. Watching this bit of “baby lottery” makes the film just a little bit disturbing. Dan debates which baby to choose, with the help of many co-workers, as he voices his fears of ending up with a kid who is “not cute.” Socially conscientious viewers will be left wondering what’s become of the other Vietnamese baby, whose color-fax likeness probably ended up in Jeff’s office wastebasket.
But it’s not often that such a short film can explore a social issue (being gay), a universally human issue (parenthood), and such a tragic issue (being the baby Dan didn’t choose) all at once.