“The Triumvirate” by Jean Strauss is the first film I had ever seen about adoption. Jean and I have exchanged a few emails and talked on the phone, and I have told her she owes me at least one box of Kleenex. I’ve watched the film dozens of times alone and with many people, and tears come every time. “The Triumvirate” was a student film Jean created at the New York Film Academy and went on to be named the Best of Fest at the 2004 Palm Springs International Festival of Short Films. It went on to win several other festival awards.
What is so amazing about this film is that in 14 powerful minutes, Jean captures so many of the facts and emotions surrounding adoption and all of its participants. Beginning at the “delivery room” where she arrived in the world, she sets the scene with the sign on the door that says keep doors closed, and says simply, “I couldn’t do that.”
Although Jean has a happy childhood with her adoptive family, it is when she has her first child, that her journey to reunite with her birth family begins. She is so honest about the conflict that many adoptees feel about being disloyal to their adoptive family when they decide they want to find their first family. After several years of searching, Jean does find her birth mother and seven brothers and sisters she didn’t know she had.
When we meet Lee, her birth mother, she tells the story that many birth mothers tell. She desperately wanted to keep Jean, but was told she couldn’t…and as she watched the tail lights of the car drive away with her baby, she had a hole in her heart. Like so many birth mothers, she wondered about Jean throughout her life until her reunion with her.
The story then begins to reveal the other member of The Triumvirate, but I am going to stop here. I want all of you to watch the film because my description here is not doing it justice and I don’t want to spoil some wonderful surprises.
My husband and I have often spent time over the years with couples who are thinking about adopting, or in the process of adoption. We spent an evening with a wonderful couple a few weeks ago, and after much discussion about what adoption is all about, I simply showed them this enlightening film. They are in the middle of an open adoption process, and this film — unlike anything else could have done – prepared them to embrace the open process, and the child they are so lovingly anticipating.
Please click on this link to scroll through a short snyopsisy of Jean Strauss’s short films and to enjoy short film clips of The Triumvirate and her other three short films:
SILVER SHORTS, Vol. 1, by Jean Strauss
Newly released on dvd, Silver Shorts, Vol. 1 includes all four of Jean’s award-winning short films. In addition to the four films, (The Triumvirate — 13 minutes, Holding Hands — 11 minutes, Vital Records — 22 minutes, and Breathing — 15 minutes), the dvd also includes bonus material.
Silver Shorts is available only through the Jean Strauss store website.