Cleveland International Film Festival } March 22 – April 1, 2023 } Playhouse Square

Paternal Instinct

Year: 2003
Country: United States
Run Time: 74 minutes

A documentary with more drama and love would be difficult to conceive. Mark and Erik, an upscale pair in a committed relationship, have placed an internet notice: NYC GAY COUPLE SEEKING SURROGATE. Erik feels baby fever more than Mark does, but the duo agree to the challenge and decide to level the emotional playing field by ideally fathering two children, via the same mother, with each man's sperm. But who will carry the babies? They receive a very positive response to their posting from Wen, a follower of the Wicca religion ("She's a witch!"), dwelling in Maine with a broad-minded husband and a healthy set of kids. She invokes powers of nature during the inseminations, but the process turns out to be longer and more arduous than expected. While pundits debate the meaning of family, PATERNAL INSTINCT shows it, from the etiquette about asking a neighbor to help with semen, to the strain on the trios' bonds when fertilization fails, to the faith-based community upholding and fortifying these parents-to-be.

Craig Harwood, Murray Nossel

Edward Marritz

Susanne Rostock

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