For the greater majority of all people who are born and grow to reach maturity and adulthood at some point in time they struggle with identity, purpose and what their meaning is really all about. These anxious feelings that are sometimes composed of fear, self-loathing, confusion and isolation many times are only compounded by the fact that few people going through this cycle ask or reach out for help, in fact many will recoil from any form of aid that is offered to them.
PBS/POV documentary to make a local premiere in Cleveland this weekend
By BAKARI SIMPSON
For the greater majority of all people who are born and grow to reach maturity and adulthood at some point in time they struggle with identity, purpose and what their meaning is really all about. These anxious feelings that are sometimes composed of fear, self-loathing, confusion and isolation many times are only compounded by the fact that few people going through this cycle ask or reach out for help, in fact many will recoil from any form of aid that is offered to them. Many of these emotions, scenarios and issues are dealt with head on in the fantastic documentary “Off and Running” featuring Avery Klein-Cloud, which will show at 1 p.m. at the Cleveland Public Library (Main Library, 325 Superior Ave. in downtown Cleveland) this Saturday Feb. 19 proceeded by a light refreshments reception and followed by Q&A with Avery.
In one breath, Avery is like millions of individuals the world over in that she was put up for adoption by her birth mother and adopted into what would become her permanent family by the time that she was three weeks old. Now, Avery’s situation does become much more unique when you take into account that she was adopted by two Jewish lesbians who also adopted two other boys, one half Black and Puerto Rican and the other of Korean decent.
Since Avery was raised in this most customized of situations nearly since her actual birth, much of growing up was a natural, easy going process. There was definitely no shortage of love or support in what could certainly be called a strict household and each person was allowed to be themselves and pursue their own interests and, as it were, track became a major activity in Avery’s life.
The film “Off and Running” began shooting when Avery was just 16 and the filming concluded when she was 19 and it was during this time that teen angst co-mingled with merely wanting to know who you are and where you originate become questions of paramount importance. Director Nicole Opper was a film major at NYU when she had the chance to meet Avery. After doing so, she thought that Avery would make a great subject to film as she was very conversational, bright and outgoing plus she had one marvel and a back story. When approached about being in a documentary, at first Avery was a bit leery. But, once the process began (basically being filmed for a whole day once or twice out of the week) any jitters or ill thoughts that may have been there, initially faded into nothingness.
The film delves into Avery’s home life with her adopted parents as well her brothers, her track endeavors and the movie chronicles Avery’s search for her birth mother. Acutely personal “Off and Running” is a lovely film that highlights the situation of one person in a very atypical household in order to show how very similar we all really are.
“This film is not just a film it’s a message… And a lesson, just to show that people who are adopted, people who want to adopt, people that have adopted and just to people in general everywhere,” said Avery. I know that people go through identity crises, everybody goes through one of those and its hurts, its damaging and you feel alone but you’ve got to know that you’re not alone out there. I thought that I was and I wasn’t. I had a huge support group that pulled me through. So don’t hold it onto yourself, you know, make sure that you have people there for you because it helps. And for the youth out there, I feel you, everybody goes through the pain of identity crises, even racial crises if you’re inter-racially adopted just know that you are not the only one going thru these issues and there are people you can reach out to. So I hope that the people who come to the film enjoy it and appreciate it. I will be there for Q&A, so I hope to see you guys out there in Cleveland!”