Three Identical Strangers (2018) Other movies recommended for you
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Plot: New York, 1980: three complete strangers accidentally discover that they are identical triplets, separated at birth. The 19-year-olds' joyous reunion catapults them to international fame, but it also unlocks an extraordinary and disturbing secret that goes beyond their own lives - and could… Runtime: 96 min Release Date: 19 Jan 2018
It begins in 1980, when a new student at an upstate college is greeted by returning students. How was your summer? Good to see you! He thinks it's weird until one guy stares at him. "Were you adopted? What's your birthday?" It turns out he has an unknown identical twin. When the story hits the newspaper another one pops up. They bond. Everything is wonderful, except that each set of parents is outraged. Why weren't they told? They would have adopted all three!At this point I was starting to lose interest, as it looked like it was turning into a story about lawsuits and <more>
people declaring what they would have done versus a well-meaning charity's understandable policy -- people may want to adopt a baby, but who needs the tsuris and expense of three? However, the story took a turn with a interview with an investigative reporter and a report of identical twins being deliberately separated for cold-blooded study... and by the end the trail had led to a powerful Jewish charity and an archive in Yale that's sealed for almost half a century more.I'm a great fan of the ability of movies to tell a story, but I have rarely seen a documentary that told such a heart-breaking and disturbing factual story. I thought myself inured to the cruelty of people, but I left the theater asking how could these people, of all people, have thought to have done these things? It's also an investigation into the character of three people, the question of nature versus nurture, and the issue of free will. Quite simply, it's one of the best documentaries I have ever seen.
Enthraling, capitvating. I drove over an hour to see this movie, yet did not expect the twists and turns. These boys grab your heart and dont let go. I would read the book if they wrote one, which would be great because the movie does leave you wanting to know more.
This documentary is a reminder why we love movies! (by kewilson-1)
The Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar in Austin had a special screening on Tuesday of Three Identical Strangers and brought in brothers David Kellman and Robert Shafran. They had all been on a special tour with the documentary with Alamo Drafthouse CEO Tim League and their last stop was in Austin. Not only was there a screening of the film along with a Q&A. The Highball was turned into Triplets for a night, a restaurant that the triplets owned from 1987-2000 with actual drinks that they had on the menu.If you don't know anything about Three Identical Strangers yet, you are in for a treat. <more>
Directed by Tim Wardle, who did this documentary for CNN Films, this story is one of the most fascinating ones that you will ever come across and the people are still disturbed that it happened to them nearly 40 years later. In the early 1960s, a Jewish board called Louise Wise Services was an adoption agency, but what they didn't tell the adoptive families that they were separating twins and triplets to do a nature vs. nurture study. The families didn't know that their child had a brother or sister, much less a twin.In 1980 in New York, David Kellman went off to Sullivan Community College only to find that everyone acted like they knew him and was calling him by the name Eddy. He was confused, but one guy named Michael Domnitz came to his dorm room and asked him his birthdate and told him that he had a twin brother out there. They went to a pay phone where Domnitz knew Eddy's number and the voice on the receiving end freaked David out because it sounded just like his own. When the media covered the story, Robert Shafran was watching the news and thought to himself, "I look just like these guys!" Then they all came together and it was a love fest while all their parents were angry and felt like they were picking up the pieces. The triplets had many similarities such as the same speech patterns, smoking the same cigarettes, the same haircut, and had even wrestled in high school. Well, that's just what they did. They were complete strangers, but they got in the floor and wrestled each other like they had known each for their whole lives.People were looking for the similarities. They weren't looking for the differences, which were there. While they were growing up, The Jewish Board would stop by and see how the children were doing and with the parents' permission, a person would study them and take notes without them even knowing what was going on. They were treating these children like lab rats and this didn't really sink in for the brothers until later. They always knew something was missing and as kids suffered from separation anxiety. They would bang their heads on the crib or on the walls. They found out that the study had them all put in different socioeconomic backgrounds to study how all of these elements worked in growing up. Three Identical Strangers has twists and turns like a roller coaster. If you are Jewish, in your 50s, and adopted, you just might have a twin out there.On this film tour, Kellman explained how much Tim League made them comfortable and catered to them. "He hasn't let his celebrity change him. He's the real deal!" he said about League. It's nice to know that after a documentary like this, we know that there's good people like Tim League in this world.
Brilliant - proof positive of that old adage that real life is stranger than fiction (by michaeljtrubic)
Incredible well constructed and very well written, beautifully paced and staged. Honest heart moving testimonials underlined with stunning analysis and shocking revelations.One of those documentaries that very carefully balances the emotional temperatures of the subjects discussed.Very honest directing and as perfect an editing job as I can imagine.These guys are at the top or their profession.Thank you both the director and editor for coming to Hot Docs 2018
Came in laughing and left crying (by andre_andreas1987)
This documentary caught me off guard because it started as a happy union between three identical brothers and eventually turned into an ethical problem while discussing the importance of nature vs. nurture in human development. The true story of how the brothers united is truly heart warming and funny. The second half is better because it brings to light how an adoption agency in the 60s-80s took part in scientific studies that focused on how children developed based on their environment. Their goal was to separate identical twins and give them to different families to see how the different <more>
family structures and environment affected their development. nature vs. nurture. Back then this was less illegal but now it would be shocking. This is a great documentary for students and individuals interested in how scientific inquiry developed, psychology, family discipline, child development, etc.
Surprisingly kept my interest.... (by skyrosebutterfly)
I'm not one for documentary type of movies, but this one is an exception. I do remember hearing about the twins... later triplets. I thought their story was fascinating back then. Of course, it caught my interest, because I used to live in Sullivan County... so I was eager to watch this movie/documentary.... and eager to see it again. Nicely done and very interesting story.
From happy reunion to events much darker in tone (by howard.schumann)
Though the story has been told before, again recently in the New York Post of June 24th , seeing how three young lives were damaged in the name of scientific research turns the story from an interesting read into a visceral and ultimately heartbreaking experience. Tim Wardle's "One Killer Punch" investigative documentary Three Identical Strangers traces the lives of triplets, Robert Shafran, Eddy Galland and David Kellman, all born to a teenage girl on July 12, 1961 in Glen Cove, New York. Placed in different homes by the same adoption agency at the age of six months, neither <more>
children nor the adopting parents were told about any other family members, only that the children were part of a "routine childhood-development study" which would require periodic visits and testing. Using archival footage, home movies, interviews, and recreations, the film traces the trajectory of the boys' life from their happy reunion after nineteen years to subsequent events that are much darker in tone. The boys discovered that they were members of a family of triplets almost by accident. When Robert began his freshman year at Sullivan County Community College, he was repeatedly mistaken for Eddy who had previously attended the school and who he soon learned was the twin brother he had never known. The story of the reunion of the long lost siblings received wide attention in the newspapers and was spotted by David, the third brother, a student at Queens College, and the three were reunited in a tale so amazing that Shafran is quoted as saying, "I wouldn't believe it if someone else was telling it." The happy reunion becomes fodder for media talk shows as the three are interviewed by Phil Donahue, Tom Brokaw and others and display an abundance of charm and sincerity. Without mentioning any possible differences that might exist, they talk about all the things they have in common. Posing in the same position on stage, they tell us that each of their families had an older sister, they all wrestled in high school, they all like the same color, smoke the same cigarettes here's a nod to Marlboro , like the same type of women, and, presumably enjoy the same kind of fawning publicity. The rush of fame soon becomes a crescendo and the brothers even make a cameo appearance in the movie "Desperately Seeking Susan." With David and Robert providing the narration and with non-stop pop songs in the background, we follow their lives as they move in together and open a successful restaurant in Soho appropriately called "Triplets." After a period of time, however, a family dispute, the nature of which is undisclosed in the film, ends in Robert leaving the restaurant and moving out. Little by little, disturbing events surface. As Bob Dylan's song goes, "It's not dark yet, but it's getting there." As told by journalist Lawrence Wright, the reporter who broke the story, we learn that all three brothers had emotional problems. Kellman and Galland had spent time in a psychiatric hospital and Shafran was on probation after having pleaded guilty to charges connected to a robbery. We also learn about Dr. Peter Neubauer, a highly regarded psychologist and Holocaust survivor who ran the research study, the Louise Wise adoption agency, and the Jewish Board of Family and Children's Services, all who played a role in the events surrounding the triplet's lives. Wardle also includes the story of two other twins, sisters separated at birth by the same adoption agency. While there are important events described in the film that are best left for the viewer to discover, needless to say, they are very disturbing. Although some of the film's conclusions are little more than speculation and there are many things that are still not known records are sealed until 2066 , what we do know is enough to shake our faith in any scientific research divorced from considerations of humanity.
On July 12, 1961 in Glen Oaks, New York: Robert Shafran, Eddie Galland, and Robert Kellman were born as identical triplets to a single mother and later adopted in different families. This documentary chronicles their story which includes their eventual reunion and beyond.This is one of those documentaries which reinforces the belief that truth is stranger than fiction. It can also join superior documentaries like "Bus 174" 2002 - Brazil and "Tower" 2016 - USA as non-fiction films that end up as mysterious thrillers for audiences who are unaware of the events exposed in <more>
each film. An odd twist about "Strangers" though, is that some information remains incomplete by the end - this is no fault by any means of the filmmakers who do a superb job. Without giving anything away, there is a perverse reason that so much information is denied to the viewer and to the many involved in this bizarre story.Some movies finish with happy endings. This one starts with a happy beginning. There is much joy in the reunion and the enormous ripple effect this causes. Once the thrill starts to settle down, the young men naturally want to learn more about their birth and adoption circumstances. What they learn turns the film into a sinister mystery.Once all the talking heads are introduced within the first twenty minutes or so, a keen observer will notice that another mystery is yet to unfold as the film chronologically reveals the lives of the triplets. Once the mystery is revealed, the emotional impact is stunning.As if this film isn't rich enough, it even digs into issues of class. Each boy grew up in different circumstances from each other. This further fuels the debate of nature vs nurture. One thing though is not debatable: "Three Identical Strangers" is one of the most fascinating documentaries ever. Not since the Dionne quintuplets were born in 1934 has there been such a fascinating story of identical siblings from a multiple birth.
This movie was great. The first half was light-hearted and funny, and made you think the director was leaning a certain way as to its message. The second half took a totally different direction and became dark, sad and somewhat ambiguous. It had me thinking for days, which is a sign of a great movie. My friend literally broke down in the car crying afterwards. It's a journey into the bond between twins, mental health issues and scientific ethical boundaries.