Documentary on Girls Adopted from China Asks Hard Questions

Written by: Josephine Bridges

Somewhere Between, a documentary film that focuses on teenage girls adopted from China as babies or young children, asks questions about identity but finds no clear answers.

Director Linda Goldstein Knowlton made Somewhere Between for her daughter Ruby, adopted from China at 10 months old. “She will have so many questions that I won’t be able to answer. And I wonder, how will I be able to help her build a strong sense of identity when there are so many missing pieces from the early parts of her life? To find those answers, I have to meet the girls who have already walked in her shoes.” Over the course of three years, four girls, age 13 to 15 and living with adoptive families in cities across the United States, allow Knowlton and viewers of this film an intimate look not only at their lives, but at their feelings, which are often tinged with a sense of loss.

Ann, 14, seems the least conflicted of the four girls, but the most self-effacing. She participates in color guard at school, which she calls, “a reject sport” for “the people who don’t necessarily always fit in.” Born in China in 1993, she was adopted two years later. While they waited for the adoption to go through, her adoptive family in Lansdale, Pennsylvania set a place for her at the dinner table every night to remind them that a little girl would eventually sit there. Ann’s friendship with another of the four girls, who is determined to find her birth parents, makes her think hard about her own feelings about her birth family. “I’m happy with my parents now,” she says, though she also admits that she has always told herself that finding her birth family was impossible. She has yet to visit China.

Haley, Ann’s friend in Nashville, Tennessee, is the youngest of the four at 13. Adopted at six months old, Haley was the “starter” for her mother’s charitable work on behalf of children in Chinese orphanages. She has traveled to China many times, but she is prompted to search for her birth family by a visit to the Netherlands and a conversation with Hibrand Westra, founder of United Adoptees International and a Korean adoptee who encourages her to begin her search as soon as possible, because many adoptees get started too late, only to discover that records are not available. It isn’t an easy decision for Haley, who confides that she thinks about finding her birth mother but, “I wouldn’t want to make either of my moms feel unwanted.” Haley’s adoptive family supports her quest, and on her next trip to China, she affixes a poster to a wall in her Chinese village. Within hours a man has come forward claiming to be her father.

Jenna, 15, studies long hours at prep school, figure skates, and holds the demanding position of coxswain on her school’s crew team. She lives in Newburyport, Massachusetts. Her adoptive mother, Peggy, understands her daughter’s motivation to push herself: “Early on she became very aware that she was the only Chinese child living in a white town. If you’re always being seen, never just blending in, of course you want to appear like you’ve got everything under control and you’re doing everything perfectly.” A trip to Barcelona to speak to adoptive families of Chinese children is a turning point for Jenna. When she responds to a question about being abandoned, she admits, “I am always searching for a way to compensate for the fact that I am a girl and that I was probably poor, and for some reason maybe I wasn’t good enough.” Upon her return home, she trades crew for yoga.

Fang, 15, from Berkeley, California, was adopted at five years old and remembers a great deal about her early years in China, including the occasions of her abandonment and her adoption. Though she travels to China frequently, visiting villages where she finds “people that might look like me,” she is not optimistic about discovering any more about her origins than resemblances. “It’s a blessing to be able to know your roots and be able to know the people that you came from, but in a country of billions, the chances are slim.” Fang spends a lot of her time in China at orphanages, and assists a Missouri family in their adoption of a girl with cerebral palsy who captured Fang’s heart the first time she saw her. “When you come into the world and you know that your parents, at least your dad, thinks less of you because of your gender, something that you can’t control, it’s wrong. I want to prove him wrong. We deserve fair treatment, especially in China. I know I can’t change a whole country, but I’d like to.”

At the end of the film, the director plays with her daughter and concludes, “I’ve learned that there are no clear answers to give her. Ruby’s journey will be her own, and the questions will be hers to ask.”



Four of the Biggest Motion Picture Awards Shows

Written By: Sarah Clausen


For movie buffs, the start of the new year means one thing: Awards Season. Starting in January it seems like nearly every week there is another awards show being held. So what are some of the different types of awards can a film receive?


One of the first awards show of the season is the Golden Globe awards. This annual ceremony and dinner recognizes the year’s best domestic and foreign films and television shows. The first Golden Globes were given out in January 1944 by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Since 1961 the awards show has been held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. The 2012 Golden Globes were held on January 15.


The Golden Globes

The Golden Globes are held annually in January

Those interested in the directorial aspects of film should be aware of the Directors Guild of America Awards. These annual awards are given out by the Directors Guild of America to films with outstanding direction. And interesting note about the DGA Awards is that only six times since the awards’ inception in 1949 has the winner of the Award for Feature Film not won the Academy Award for Best Director. The 2012 DGA Awards will take place on January 28.


A similar award is the Producers Guild of America Awards. A new addition to the field, they were started in 1990 as the Golden Laurel Awards. The Producers Guild of America seeks to honor and recognize those who produce motion pictures and television. The PGA Awards also have a good track record of predicting which film will win Best Picture at the Academy Awards. The 2012 PGA Awards were held on January 21.


Of course, one would be remiss to not mention the culminating awards show of the season, the Academy Awards. Also known as the Oscars, these awards have been given out since 1929 by the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS). The nominees are voted on by the members of AMPAS, with the nominations being made public in late January of each year. The 2012 Academy Awards will be held on February 26.


The Academy Awards

The Oscar is given out at the Academy Awards


This is just a small sampling of the myriad awards presentations held each year. Whatever awards show you follow, the most important question is: Did you favorite film win?

Reese’s Puffs’ Fresh Films Program is Well Underway


The teen team on the Sherman Oaks set of “Gloria.”

Dominic Monaghan, as one of the two celebrities expected to participate in Fresh Films – the program aimed at providing teenagers with a summer-long filmmaking experience – arrived just seconds before the rookie crew of teenagers were even ready to shoot. Shouts of advice – like “work smart – not hard,” filled the background of the bustling set as the 17 winners of Reese’s Puffs‘ nationwide contest put their budding talents to the test of real-world movie making.

Two groups were formed, and issued the task of each creating a short film; In so doing, participants would gain an invaluable hands-on experience in almost every facet of the production process – from scripting to post-edits. Sarah Wendel, the sole Californian to be accepted into the program, said that she appreciated the ability to rotate into different jobs in order to learn the significance of things like continuity, lighting and sound mixing.

Monaghan admitted that his initial attraction to the program was the opportunity that it offered teens. He’s known for his roles in “Lost,” and “Flashfoward,” while Bobbie J. Thompson, the other celebrity to get involved with the project, may be recognized from his work with “30 Rock” and “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs. In the short films, Monaghan portrays a rock god in search of his lost guitar, and Thompson plays a teen who won a chance to be a DJ for the day at a favorite radio station, only to discover the format of radio has changed entirely.

The sponsor’s cereal box

The films themselves will be available to view online at from April 12 to 26, where viewers can vote for the winner. Each member of the winning team will receive a $1,000 scholarship and a portable Flip camera.

California Loses more Money as Movie Crews Leave for Canada and Beyond

Californian movie sets like this are growing ever more scarce by the year

In 2003, California’s world share of studio films – or, in other words, the movies made by the six biggest studios – was at a healthy 66 percent; by 2008 it had plummeted to a meager 34 percent. To question how Hollywood has slowly become the least popular place to make movies, is to trace the roots back to 1998, when Canada first started to offer incentive tax breaks for producers and crews who were willing to conduct business outside of California. Since then, seven U.S. states, and 24 different countries have begun competing with grants, rebates, and tax credits promising to eliminate as much as 40 percent of the cost for shooting a film.

Product of Vancouver, Canada

The reason behind the madness is simple economics; when a monstrous production arrives in any location, there are instantly a few hundred new jobs that pop up out of thin air (which is especially fantastic when the given city doesn’t have the money to build factories). California, which is currently suffering from a hard budget crisis, has managed to get ten feature films shot on location in Los Angeles by using what modest incentive the golden state could muster.

Perhaps the city of L.A. should offer up free gas masks or parking spots to those who do decide to continue making movies in California.

DVD Drama Adds to the Controversy Surrounding the Release of the New Alice In Wonderland Movie

Alice In Wonderland Theatrical Poster

Hot Topic and Barnes & Noble are currently offering an entire section of Alice in Wonderland merchandise, and a crowd of fans are already planning on going to the theatre upon release of the movie; so, why is the United States worrying about boosting sales with an early DVD release? Not only does Europe dislike the idea, but some English theater chains  are actually looking to boycott the film because of this great American decision. The movie opens on March 5th, and now the controversy also includes the people in charge of the film, but not just those who don’t like how the new film doesn’t match the old book.

Lewis Carroll’s beloved novel, Alice in Wonderland, is a classic story that has been animated and filmed several times over. It’s the tale of a young girl’s accidental journey into a rather ridiculous world, where she encounters bizarre creatures and the crazy situations in which they thrive. As it stands, the story has found it’s way into another movie, and, as usual, this movie plot won’t match up with the book.

This time, Tim Burton will direct this most recent cinematic

The Red Queen owns the dragon that terrorizes wonderland

interpretation of the story, which acts as a sequel to the original journey. It follows a 19 year old Alice, and her return to the place called Wonderland. And since TIm Burton’s vision is very different from Lewis Carroll’s, many people are upset and disappointed; oh well, at least this version is in 3-D.

Woody Harrelson is a Changed Man after Military Role in “The Messenger”

The Messenger Movie Marquee

Woody Harrelson says that he’s a changed man from his portrayal of Captain Stone, a veteran officer who returns from combat and gets assigned to the notification service with a young sergeant, Ben Foster. The movie, aptly titled “The Messenger,” shows how Harrelson‘s character maintains stiff military discipline, while he attempts to mentor the young Foster, who struggles with the tumultuous emotions of the families as they learn of their dead children.

But this self-proclaimed hippie does’t appear as a very likely candidate for the role of a soldier. Perhaps that is why he found it necessary to travel to the Walter Reed Army Medical Center and converse with wounded soldiers and true-life notifications officers. Many fans and staff members, including screenwriter Alessandro Camon, agreed that the role was rather divergent from who Harrelson actually is in real life. But, in the end, the experience has helped him separate the wars from the people who fight them, and he has come out of it with a new perspective on soldiers: they are just people, who don’t make very much money as they join a national effort out of a profound love for their country.

Thanks to this veteran’s artistic dedication, Harrelson has been nominated for an Oscar for his work as Captain Tony Stone in the film, “The Messenger.”

The Hippie from Maui, Woody Harrelson