DOC NYC 2019 Film Review: My Dads, My Moms and Me ★★★

My Dads, My Moms and Me follows three Canadian families as they navigate the world of LGBTQ parenthood. Documentary filmmaker, Julia Ivanova, initially filmed her subjects in 2007, returning 12 years later to capture the families’ lives as they go through the tween to teen years of their children.

In 2005, Canada was the first country outside Europe to legalise same-sex marriage, leading to more of the nation’s same-sex couples starting families. Ivanova’s subjects are gay couple, Drew and Randy, who adopt a son; Scott, a (then single) gay man who has twins with a surrogate; and Cory and Wendy, a lesbian couple who each have a child with Steve, a gay man, who co-parents with them.

All the parents reflect on how times have changed since their own youth, and how, for some of them, being able to marry and have a family of their own once seemed an impossibility. None of the families report experiencing homophobia, although sisters Jazz and Zea describe their caution at telling friends about their three parents. In the 2007 footage, both gay couples mention the intrusive questions about the whereabouts of the children’s mother. But in one of the more recent sections, Drew recounts an exchange between two friends of his adopted son, Jack, in which one asks if the other knew Jack had two dads, only to be told, “Yes, and he also has two cats”. This is in stark contrast to Drew and Randy’s dismay when, having established a Meetup group for gay parents back in 2007, folk were not exactly flocking to join.

All the families have had their ups and downs. If Darren’s description of the day he adopted his husband Scott’s children doesn’t bring a tear to your eye, then you need to go and warm up your cold, dead heart. Drew and Randy describe the strains of their different parenting styles on their relationship. Cory especially feels the strain when Wendy and her daughter, Zea, experience the same debilitating illness.

My Dads, My Moms and Me is an interesting watch, and the subjects are all likeable people. The much-wanted and much-loved children are equally engaging and sometimes wise beyond their years. Time-lapse docs are always fun: we get to see who has aged well, whether they are still together, and whether we like their taste in interior décor.

While there are many, many life-affirming moments in this film, it’s imbalanced. The title suggests that the film is told from the perspective of the children, but we hear the most from the adults and very little indeed from Jack. Cory and Wendy, who do the childcare from Monday to Friday, don’t get as much screen-time as Steve who co-parents at the weekend. All of the film’s subjects are white; in fact, Scott is all-too-aware of his privilege as a white, educated man. And while Drew and Randy were clearly ahead of their time with the Meetup group, revisiting this or providing information about the increase in LGBTQ families since the initial filming would have added some context. It would be easy to conclude, as initially I wanted to, that LGBTQ families don’t face any discrimination or opposition; while these families may have been fortunate (or Ivanova has chosen not to dwell on it), it can’t be like that everywhere.

By Karen Smith

My Dads, My Moms and Me received its International Premiere at DOC NYC on Monday November 11th at 7.30pm at Cinepolis Chelsea. For more information and to purchase tickets head to the DOC NYC website here. For more details on the film visit the official website.

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