|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
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Film looks for lost heritage
First Person Plural
Directed By: Deann Borshay
By Molly Duignan
When considering what to watch on television tonight, think beyond The West Wing<>i>, Law and Order or even Star Trek. Think about watching something educational and surprisingly interesting. For once, think about a documentary, namely First Person Plural.
The true personal story of a woman searching for cultural belonging, First Person Pluralis a touching and honest look at one woman's quest for a unified identity. Director Deann Borshay narrates the confusing evolution of her own life from her first conscious memories at age eight in post-war 1960s Korea to her present domestic life in 21st Century California.
Born OK Jin, mistaken as Cha Jung Hee and finally raised as Deann Borshay, this child adopted in South Korea after the Korean War stands at the centre of the film, which offers an emotionally-charged perspective on an age-old problem: How to preserve one's culture while attempting to assimilate into another?
Borshay's problems lie in an illusionary past as she is thrust into a stereotypical, white, middle-class family with little to no cultural sympathy or education.
Borshay's prospective American family fell in love with the little girl they paid $15 a month to clothe, feed and educate. Motivated by fostercare commercials, which were just beginning to flash across television screens in 1965 American suburbia, the Borshay family adopts a young Cha Jung Hee after two years of written correspondence.
Treated somewhat like a new pet, Borshay was separated from her language, culture and memories only to thrive in her new environment. It wasn't until her college years that Borshay became concerned and sentimental about her anonymous past. Upon investigation, however, Borshay meets with surprising truths that could jeopardize her familial loyalties and confuse her sense of belonging.
First Person Plural shows the way in which the kind act of adopting a foreign child can be as difficult as it is beneficial. The honest naiveté of Borshay's adoptive family is almost astounding in our culturally conscious society. It is alarming to witness how much the issues of cultural immersion and the importance of knowing one's history have changed.
Culture-clashing occurs everywhere in Borshay's life, and she uses these contradictions in order to define herself as well as define what constitutes family.
Not a stereotypically boring or drab documentary, First Person Plural is an eye-opening, one hour exhibit into the kind of cultural confusion and identity crises that are ever-present yet virtually unnoticed in contemporary society. Worthy of feature-film length, Borshay lets the public into her inner-world and personal turmoils tonight at 10 p.m. on TVO.