Sunday, June 19, 2011

LA Film Fest: 'Somewhere Between' Review

"Somewhere Between," a documentary by director/L.A. mom Linda Goldstein Knowlton that's screening in competition at the Los Angeles Film Festival, is a moving exploration of a cultural middle ground -- from a teenager's point of view. Four of them, actually.

Knowlton and her husband adopted a 10-month-old baby girl from China five years ago, and Knowlton wanted to find out what her daughter's journey might be like as she got older and became curious about where she came from.

And from there, the idea for "Somewhere Between" was born.

Knowlton follows four teenage girls -- Fang, Jenna, Ann and Haley (the latter two are pictured, right) -- who were adopted from Chinese orphanages by American families. The girls are well loved, happy, curious, self-aware, hyper-articulate and bright. But they are also not completely comfortable in their own skin -- which, they have realized from a very young age, is a different color from their (adoptive) parents and the people around them.

Part of that is being a teenager, but most of that questioning comes from not knowing who their birth parents are -- and being "somewhere between" American and Chinese.

All four travel around the world, meeting other Chinese adoptees through the Chinese Adoptee Links (CAL) organization, and Fang and Haley make regular trips to China.

Haley, an adorable 13-year-old from Nashville who dreams of performing at the Grand Ole Opry, becomes more and more curious about finding her Chinese family -- so much so that she makes a kind of "Lost/Found" sign with photos and information written in Mandarin.

What results from that is such a jumble of emotions and discoveries that would rock any adult's world, much less a child's.

While I would advise bringing some tissue to the theater, audiences need not worry about emotional trauma at the multiplex. (The film, however, is recommended for ages 14+.) This is a touching film that tackles complicated situations with care as well as curiosity.

Watching these four girls go through such seminal moments in front of a camera is astonishing. They are true role models for any American -- or Chinese -- girl.

"Somewhere Between" (94 mins.)
Regal Cinemas L.A. Live
Tues., June 21; 7:30 p.m.
Weds., June 22; 4:30 p.m.
Tickets: $13

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