Friday, January 25, 2008

The Dying Room

This is a photo of my son, taken outside his Chinese orphanage a few years before he came to join our family. I've been to this orphanage, it is a beautiful place with loving caretakers and excellent facilities. I can not say enough good things about this orphanage, it is in the top two of those I've I have visited in 5 countries. The other was the Ark, in Jarabacoa, Dominican Republic.



My friend Jen told me about this short documentary, though it was made more than a decade ago I had not seen it. We actually adopted Sarah a year or so after it came out and China closed many of it's orphanages to outsiders.

Truly, my hat is off to the filmmakers. It is my opinion that shooting this film was quite dangerous.

Click here to find the page, then
click the link on the right called the Dying Room.

Reactions to this documentary interest me as both a filmmaker and an adoptive mom. Some people are angry about it, feeling that this film was the reason they could not go to their child's orphanage. Others feel it helps them understand their child's story. Others deny that there is any truth to the film, or the truth is only in the distant past, and all has changed now.

The Dying Room film is powerful in part because it boils down the Chinese orphan problem to the implementation of the One Child Policy. Succinct, tangible.

It is my desire to distill my work, apply the principal of Occam's razor, but, my mind does not work that way. I look at an issue and see a thousand threads, and I struggle to cut any of them off because they could lead somewhere important.

Are there reasons outside the one child policy that contribute to the orphan crisis and abuse in China? Certainly. But, does the documentary filmmaker have a responsibility to show all facets of a story? Please comment and let me know what you think.

And, if you want to know why I posted a picture of Addis on the post just before this one, it is because I was feeling internal pressure that my blog photos were only showing one side of Ethiopia, that of a rural, poor nation. When writing, I felt those photos fit the post content. So, why do I feel an obligation to expand the visual conversation and let people know that I realize Ethiopia has modern areas and wealth? This nagging worry that I must paint the entire picture or I am not showing the truth can and does paralyze my work.

2 comments:

Allison DeFelice said...

Just finished watching The Dying Room. Procreation: so basic and primal yet so challenging. How to deal with human rights and self-destiny and population conrol all at once. So painful to see, I couldn't bear it.

Heidi Mehltretter said...

I am with you. There are no easy answers, are there? But, I believe there are wise people in this world who can tap into positive answers. And, I think if we want change badly enough, we will find answers that uphold the dignity of all people.

Thanks for commenting!
h