Review: ‘My Dads, My Moms, and Me’

Hot Docs 2019

5 mins read

My Dads, My Moms, and Me
(Canada, 85 min.)
Dir. Julia Ivanova
Programme: Focus On (World Premiere)

In 2005, Canada became the first country outside of Europe to legalize same-sex marriage. This opened a legal way for many gay men to fulfill their dream of having children. In 2007’s Fatherhood Dreams, Julia Ivanova (Limit is the Sky) told the stories of gay dads Scott, Steve, Randy and Drew, on their emotional and challenging journeys to becoming fathers through adoption, co-parenting and surrogacy. Randy and Drew adopted baby Jack, Scott connected with a surrogate to have twins Ella and Mac, and Steve fathered and brought up Zea and Jazz in a co-parenting relationship with lesbian mothers Wendy and Cory. Now, a decade later, Ivanova goes back to check on the families and their children in her latest film My Dads, My Moms and Me, where she gives viewers a rare view into the daily lives and challenges facing queer parents today.

The film is uninterested in politics, but rather focuses on the everyday in an attempt to find answers to questions that continue to be relevant: to what extent does the upbringing in non-traditional families impact a child? Through interweaving footage from the first film into new interviews with the kids and parents, My Dads, My Moms and Me provides an unprecedented chance to observe a decade long progression in several families. Although the film is mostly comprised of interviews, and is uninventive in form, the fact that Ivanova spoke to the families as they were going about their usual day made the film a lot more appealing and entertaining to watch.

Jack, Randy and Drew’s son, is now twelve and displaying typical signs of a preteen. He is cheeky, rebellious and looking to have a voice. Scott is now married to Darren, and the twins are extremely well adjusted and simply are children. Mac is a sports fan, and Ella loves to draw and write. Zea, now almost 16, still loves spending time with her father Randy and Jazz, who was a resistant teen in the first film, has come around a little. Through focusing on the day-to-day, the mundane problems and happenings in the families’ lives, Ivanova reveals to us that what they are going through is no different than what any family may go through.

Although at times dull, the film is an important one. Perhaps for me, it was its revealing of the universality of family dynamics and its testament to the bonds of love and family that made it worth watching. Gay parents, lesbian parents or two moms and a dad, My Dads, My Moms and Me, is proof that families are families and love is love.

Screens with:

Take Me to Prom
(Canada, 20 min.)
Dir. Andrew Moir

Speaking of love, screening with My Dads, My Moms and Me is the short film Take Me to Prom, directed by Andrew Moir (Babe, I Hate to Go), in which Queer Canadians retell a moment from their prom night. As the subjects tell their stories, some from their living rooms and some in a recreated space that mimics their prom night, Moir interweaves the interview footage with a playful treatment of old photographs or prom home videos, and sometimes creates DIY animations of some of the subject’s prom adventures. From the old to the young, from those who skipped prom and got high to those who didn’t know they were queer, this short film features beautifully composed, somewhat performative, very nostalgic vignettes which stir feelings of love, freedom and perseverance.

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