First Person Plural follows the story of an 8-year old girl who is adopted by an American family, only to discover years later that she has a birth family in Korea. The film explores themes of race, identity, assimilation, and birth family reunion.
Since its debut in 2000, First Personal Plural has become a milestone in documentary film and adoption narratives...I highly recommend it for use in the classroom. It provides an effective introduction to the issues raised by adoption across borders and invariably provokes in-depth discussions around broader issues of transnational migration, gender, kinship, race, and multiculturalism.
In 1966, Deann Borshay Liem was adopted by an American family and sent from Korea to her new home in California. There the memory of her birth family was nearly obliterated, until recurring dreams led her to investigate her own past, and she discovered that her Korean mother was very much alive. Bravely uniting her biological and adoptive families, Borshay Liem embarks on a heartfelt journey in this acclaimed film that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. Nominated for an Emmy for Best Director, First Person Plural is a poignant essay on family, loss and the reconciling of two identities.
For the past five years, I have shown Deann Borshay Liem's FIRST PERSON PLURAL in all my undergraduate classes...The film stimulates students' thinking and very lively discussion about a broad range of issues - not only the perennial 'identity' issues that college students often grapple with, but also questions about how global power relations help shape individual lives.
The film is a must for all of the parents, professionals and teens and young adults we work with, not just for those with international adoptions, but also for anyone who has adopted or is adopted or has a child by birth who ended up raised by others.
First Person Plural is not just a film about international adoption; it is a film about the ways in which individuals, families, and nations negotiate notions of identity and belonging.
With her unique ability to mix her personal perspective with the larger institutional issues, Deann Borshay Liem has created two films that are important contributions to the exploration of the complexity of transnational and transracial adoption.
Everything about this documentary feels breathtakingly real.
In FIRST PERSON PLURAL, we see Liem untangling her roots with a combination of zeal and anguish that dramatizes how desperately we all need to connect with our past to make sense of our lives and ourselves.