Donor Unknown: Film and DVD review

Donor Unknown: Film and DVD review

BEING a child is hard enough. Being a child conceived via sperm donation can be even more difficult.

If the child discovers they were born this way, is it easy enough to carry on regardless or will they go down the road of finding out who their real father is?

It's a dilemma faced by JoEllen Marsh which turned her life around in more ways than one. Donor Unknown follows JoEllen as she reveals everything she went through meeting her half-siblings and, ultimately, her donor father, Jeffrey.

It all happens thanks to website the Donor Sibling Registry - it brought JoEllen and Danielle together.

But a New York Times article about the girls sparked an online search that resulted in dozens of 20-somethings coming forward because they were conceived from the same man.

Describing her first meeting with half-sister Danielle as 'weird', this is a heart-warming look at a subject rarely discussed in public.

In it we meet JoEllen and her half-brothers-and-sisters as well as 'Donor 150' aka the sperm donor, Jeffrey.

Jeffrey likens himself to a 'fringe monkey' - someone who lives on the fringes of society, protecting others from danger. He loves dogs and pigeons and lives in a rusty old camper van on Venice Beach.

A self-confessed hippy who pursued acting and modelling in his younger years, his decision to donate sperm was the result of being chatted up by a woman looking for a donor.

It brings a smile to the face listening to the 'family' talk about the similar traits they share - piano playing, same large toes, the way they push hair behind their ears.

Geoffrey's views on life and government would be considered those of a conspiracy theorist, but in truth, he is harmless.

In the end, Donor Unknown is a light-hearted look at a side of life rarely revealed and avoids focusing on the negatives and firmly shows there can be a positive outcome.

If you missed the showing of Donor Unknown 28th June on More4, why not watch the DVD, due out 11th July.

Film review: by Garry McConnachie 29th June 2011

Read more about known sperm and egg donation and donors keeping in touch with their children at

Posted: 01/07/2011 11:36:02


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