When it comes to book selections, I typically read a couple novels then alternate with a non-fiction of some sort, usually from the biography, memoir, or essay categories.
I do the same with movies. I watch a few dramas then feel the need to balance out the fiction with something real, some sort of documentary. As I recently watched and reviewed THE REVENANT, CONCUSSION, and JOY (funny that they were all dramas based on true stories, right?), I found myself craving a documentary this week.
The winner of my scroll through Netflix Streaming was TWINSTERS, an autobiographical film about a twenty-something Korean gal named Samantha who lived in California and, in a bizarre twist of events possible only because of the Internet, learned she had an identical twin living in Paris that she previously had no idea existed. Samantha and her newfound sister, Anais, connected through Facebook, then Skype, then — before confirmation they were even legitimately related — face to face.
Samantha and Anais' too-good-to-be-true connection and finding of one another is intriguing and touching. The girls begin with nervous chatter back and forth then eventually settle into comfortable banter, revealing their surprising similarities. When they meet in person, they appear too scared to even touch one another (much less hug, which I was rooting for to my husband), and hesitantly touch each other back and forth, digesting the reality they seemingly had a doppelganger if not a genuine identical sister. Sam grew up with two brothers and Anais was an only child, both adopted when babies, so the idea they had a sibling with whom they had a unique connection was exciting... and frightening.
Ultimately, the connection is beautiful and tender. They cling to one another, hold hands wherever they go, comfortably sleep in the same bed, soon share their families.
TWINSTERS is about so much more than meeting a sibling you never knew you had, though. The film shows a spectrum of feelings and connections I never considered for adoptive children and those who love them. The girls are devastated by the refusal by their birth mother to acknowledge their existence. They're overjoyed by being wholly accepted into one another's adoptive families. They're heartbroken by living on opposite sides of the world. And they're comforted by the steps they've taken to come full circle in their journey, embracing their past and their Korean culture.
Ultimately, TWINSTERS is a tale of unconditional love, acceptance, and forgiveness. And proof that the Internet provides life-changing experiences, not just time sucks.
TWINSTERS is the first film I've seen that came to be courtesy a Kickstarter campaign. The credits included a lengthy list of "Kickstarter Angels," which I have a feeling we'll be seeing more and more in cinematic releases. If those to come are as moving and impressive as TWINSTERS, my queue of must-see films will likely grow more quickly than my list of those released by major — or independent — studios.
Samsung certainly saw the value in the tiny film (and story) of Samantha and Anais, and released this four-minute mini-doc in support of one of its devices designed to help folks connect:
TWINSTERS (rated PG-13 "for brief strong language") premiered at last year's South By Southwest Film Festival and is now available on Netflix Streaming. Find out more about the film and the twins' story on the TWINSTERS Facebook page.