Thursday, May 27, 2021

Human Rights Watch Film Festival Spotlight: Daughter of a Lost Bird

Daughter of a Lost Bird
Directed by Brooke Pepion Swaney
Screening Information

Identity can be a complicated thing for any person, and for someone who belongs to multiple communities, it can be all the more challenging. There are often conflicting values and aspects of different cultures, and someone may find resonance in contradictory notions that speak to various parts of themselves. Adoption often involves transplanting someone from one type of existence to another, and, try as they may to ensure a preservation of a child’s birth heritage, those new parents cannot fully replicate the experience of growing up in a place that speaks to who they are. This documentary offers a mesmerizing and enlightening examination of how new relationships and people can inform the trajectory of a person’s whole life.

This film spotlights Kendra, who is only now as an adult connecting to her Native American background after being raised by loving white parents. Her self-exploration is compounded by meeting her birth mother April, who was also adopted. Kendra’s desire to belong and connect clashes with her lack of knowledge about a culture she doesn’t actually know much about, and watching her work through that with April is enormously rewarding. The focus on the 1958 Indian Adoption Project that sought to actively remove Native children from their families is particularly unsettling, and this film serves as compelling and irrefutable evidence that harm has been inflicted by such policies that, throughout this country’s history, have been all too common and enthusiastically endorsed.


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