Directed by Amanda Lipitz
English, some Chinese dialects with subtitles
98 minutes in duration
What makes a person Chinese?
Found, a documentary directed by Amanda Lipitz, centers around the lives of three American teenage girls, all of whom were adopted from China. Upon discovering that they are long-lost cousins, they embark on a journey to learn about their birth families.
As Lily (17) in Oklahoma City, Sadie (14) in Nashville, and Chloe (13) in Phoenix explore their roots, they are confronted with big questions of identity—how ethnicity, nationality, and origin fit (or don’t fit) together in each of them.
I was not born in China, nor was I adopted, but the themes around dual-culture identity resonated strongly with me as a born-and-raised Canadian Chinese who has lived my adult life in Asia. I have no doubt that many viewers will also connect with the film in this way.
What makes a person Chinese?Is it a birthplace? A passport or citizenship? An ethnicity? Half an ethnicity (for those who are biracial)? A culture? An upbringing?
I honestly don’t feel Chinese… I’ve just always identified myself as an American.—Sadie
The definition of “Chinese” as an identifier does not fit nicely into a box. This is something that China-focused ministries like ChinaSource and many others contemplate at great lengths. Even the Olympics is rolled up in this, with foreign-born athletes representing China and vice versa, leading to strongly divided opinions on the matter. Every time I fill out government forms, I am faced with this confusion.
Of course, this kind of blurriness exists all over the world. But as always is the case with China, everything is bigger and more complicated. Every move China makes nationally is felt globally. The effects of the one-child policy are gargantuan and will continue to play out for generations.
But lest we lose ourselves down that rabbit hole, this film is not actually about the one-child policy. In fact, Lipitz does a commendable job in presenting just enough on the issue to give context without letting it dominate the film. If you’re looking for more history and social commentary on the one-child policy, see NanFu Wang’s One Child Nation.
Found, on the other hand, is clear about its purpose—to tell the stories of 3 girls who are looking for the puzzle pieces of their identity. Every aspect of the film works to this end. It is a thoughtful, micro-level, insider look at something that is often referred to in historical, impersonal, macro terms. We journey with the girls through raw emotions, heart-breaking revelations, and impossible decisions that no teenage girl (nor adult for that matter) is equipped to make.
I wish I could end this review with an answer to the question that I started with, but I’m just as stuck as the rest of us. As China continues to move and grow, more and more people will find themselves amid this blurriness. And perhaps there is no silver bullet, because the answer is just not that simple. Maybe, in typical Chinese fashion, the answer will not be “this or that,” but “this and that.”
When you’re little, you grow up in your perfect bubble, around all these white people, and it’s who you think you are. Then you realise you’re different.—Chloe
Image Credit: Found, YouTube
Hannah Lau was born and raised in Canada. Growing up with immigrant parents from Hong Kong gave her a rich perspective on both Eastern and Western cultures. She has spent her adult life in Asia, beginning in China serving through work in the marketplace. With a colorful and hard-earned career in …View Full Bio
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