Finding Christa (1991)


Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB

USA, 1991. Screenplay by Camille Billops, James Hatch. Cinematography by . Produced by Camille Billops, James Hatch. Film Editing by .

In barely a one hour running time, directors Camille Billops and James Hatch take their audience on a journey filled with a great deal of pain but also discovery and healing. Billops was a young woman who was unmarried and pregnant and, despite living in an era when single mothers were still a societal taboo, decided to have the child and raise it herself. She received support from friends and family but after a few years, Billops realized that she could not be a good mother to Christa, the struggle to get by was too much, and she gave her to a children’s home from where her little girl was adopted.

Twenty years later, Christa has been raised by her loving, adoptive mother who has told her that she recognizes her daughter’s need to know about her birth parents, so the young woman goes in search of Billops and their meeting is turned into this powerful, personal documentary. There are a few inventive sequences laced with fantasy and a few moments that are clearly staged for narrative purposes, but at the heart of it is something very real and brave as we watch these individuals share their frightening journey of reconnection with us. Love, sorrow, loss and the restoration of bonds are all stops on this voyage and the filmmakers manage to make each of them land beautifully, while moving quickly through a great deal of relevant information.

Toronto International Film Festival: 1991

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