Many children fantasize about having an identical twin, a perfect carbon copy of themselves. Imagine finding out as an adult that you had been born an identical twin and were purposefully separated to be in a secret study to determine the impact of nature vs. nurture. Weaving interviews, archival footage and animation, filmmaker Lori Shinseki creates a moving and artistically rendered portrait of several families from New York whose lives are forever impacted and at times shattered as they discover that the Jewish adoption agency they used was covertly separating and studying twins.
There is both tremendous joy at seeing how some of the twins discover each other and profound grief as they explore the toll this unknown loss had taken on their lives. The bond shared between these identical siblings is palpable as is the anger that builds at the academics who cavalierly chose to destroy that connection. It is particularly troubling that the adoption agency behind the study was Jewish, given the WWII Nazi experiments on twins, leading the viewer to ask how far scientists should be allowed to go to study human behavior. —Stephanie Rapp
Preceded by On My Way Out: The Secret Life of Nani and Popi
Director Brandon Gross (On My Way Out) in person in San Francisco
Lori Shinseki has worked in documentary film for the past twenty years, and The Twinning Reaction is her directorial debut. Shinseki co-produced HBO's Wartorn 1861-2010, a film about combat trauma from the Civil War to present-day conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. She also co-produced and served as associate producer on a number of documentaries for PBS' FRONTLINE series, as well as on PBS programs produced by journalist Bill Moyers. Shinseki is a graduate of Duke University and Stanford University. She lives in Charlottesville, VA with her husband Tim Heaphy and their three kids.