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

For the Life of Me

Year: 2009
Country: United States
Language: English
Run Time: 72 minutes

For the Life of Me
For the Life of Me
For the Life of Me
For the Life of Me
For the Life of Me

What's in a birth name? For many adoptees, it's that missing piece of the puzzle of their lives. FOR THE LIFE OF ME, Jean Strauss's moving and highly emotional documentary, is unapologetic in its point of view: adoptees have the right to seek out their birth parents. For David Kiley, adopted at birth, the journey to find his birth mother begins with an unexpected meeting with Strauss, herself an adoptee who successfully located her birth mother and made a short film about the experience. Strauss's first feature-length documentary follows Kiley as he discovers his birth name – Bruce Edward Kegresse – and then searches for his birth mother, Isabella, who disappeared after she gave Dave up for adoption. With few clues but plenty of determination, Dave begins his search, realizing that no matter what he finds, his life will never be the same. As Strauss's camera follows other adoptees searching for their birth identities, we feel the roller coaster of their emotions. One state administrator sums up the searches: "The right to know your roots doesn't come with the right to a relationship." FOR THE LIFE OF ME gives hope to many adoptees just beginning their journeys. – C.K.

CIFF34 Screenings

Friday, March 26, 2010 at 7:30 PM

Saturday, March 27, 2010 at 11:40 AM

Jean Strauss

Jean Strauss studied at the New York Film Academy.


Jean Strauss

Jean Strauss

Jean Strauss

Film Contact

This film is presented with the generous support of CHRIS S.W. BLAKE and LAURA WATILO BLAKE

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