August 1, 2021

the quest for identity of five adopted children


All five were adopted and were born far from France where they grew up. Justine, Mathieu, Anne-Charlotte, Nicolas, Céline have in common this story of abandonment and uprooting. All of them testify in voice-over and only appear through archives, photos and family films. While we see them grow up in this way, their story goes the other way, tells how they had to go back to their origins in order to continue. This contrary movement which takes place between story and images formalizes the main idea of ​​the film, namely that a puzzle is being reconstructed before our eyes, one piece missing. The intelligence of the process, and the way it is implemented, sets this documentary apart from all others made on this subject. Its virtue is essentially to make tangible the void from which, after abandonment and uprooting, a life must be built, an identity made.

Read also “Open the voice”: the word of the “Afro-descendant”

The director Amandine Gay is not at her first attempt, who, in Open voice (2017), had already adapted the staging to him. The camera posed slightly in a low angle, she had filmed the faces of the twenty-four women from European colonial history in Africa and the West Indies, whom she had chosen. It was then a question of making these women exist in the public space, of highlighting their diversity by giving each of them its own identity. In A story of your own, on the contrary, the faces are struggling to emerge with precision. The images made by the families are not always very clear, the scenes rarely well filmed, the children that we see remain blurry for a long time. It is their words that make them clear. Because these portraits could not be completed without this backward journey (towards birth) that everyone undertook and agreed to entrust to Amandine Gay, herself born under X and ignorant of a large part of her history.

Common ground

The documentary, which does not omit to give the original first names of the people selected (among the ninety-three met), reconstructs a plot whose purpose will be to reconcile past and present. Justine (Joohe), born in South Korea, quickly realized that her parents’ words did not match what she heard in the street. “My family pretended that I looked like them and that, no, I didn’t look like an Asian. And I liked it. But, outside, certain racist reflections proved the contrary to me. “ Mathieu (Matheus), from Brazil, who arrived in France when he was one year old, refused for a long time his parents’ offer to visit his country of origin. “I didn’t want to, because I was afraid they would leave me there”, he said.

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