Paternal Instinct may not change the minds of those who oppose same-sex marriage and parenthood, but you'd have to have a cold, cold heart to remain unmoved by this poignant documentary. Originally broadcast on HBO, the fi... more »lm demonstrates, on deeply personal and emotional terms, that "the road to fatherhood is not always a straight one." It focuses on Erik and Mark, a gay couple for ten years, who decide to become parents through the surrogate motherhood of Wen, a happily married wife, mother, and practicing witch (or Wiccan, if you prefer). Forming a devoted trio of compassionate cooperation, they struggle through an emotional roller-coaster ride including trial and error, miscarriage, self-doubts and setbacks, all leading to the birth of two daughters (one is biologically Erik's, the other Mark's) and the universal elation of new parenthood. By covering all three years in this heart-wrenching process, filmmaker Murray Nossel creates real-life drama that's more compelling as any fiction movie could ever be, and the circumstances--family support on all sides--make this a deeply effective argument for the validity of same-sex parenthood. By presenting a "21st century twist" on the American family, Paternal Instinct avoids political rancor and goes straight to the heart of the matter: Once you've seen this film, it's impossible to believe that Erik, Mark, and their children could be anything but a blessing. Considering the fact that many heterosexual couples are unfit for parenthood, a little Paternal Instinct seems like a very good thing indeed. --Jeff Shannon« less
Should be required viewing for potential gay parents
Bob Lind | Phoenix, AZ United States | 06/24/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Mark and Erik are 30-something urban New York gay couple, together 10 years, who decide to follow their "Paternal Instinct" (2004) and have a child. After discussing and deciding against adoption, they agree that they want to find an agreeable surrogate mother, and place an ad on the internet. Their search results in meeting Wen, a single mom living in Maine, who hits it off well with them. They agree on a surrogate fee of $13,000 (about average for the area and times), and plan the pregnancy through artificial insemmination. Unfortunately, their first conception results in a miscarriage, and almost a year passes with unsuccessful attempts to try again. They begin to wonder if this might be a "sign" that this wasn't meant to be, or perhaps they had dismissed the idea of adoption too quickly.
Eventually, they are successful, and the documentary shows the days leading up to the home birthing (in a plastic kiddie pool in one of the rooms of Wen's home, with both "gay daddies" present as well as a midwife and Wen's young teen son.) But the greater strength of this documentary is exploring the discussions, apprehensions, planning and priorities of the couple, as well as their interactions with friends and family. Should be required viewing for any same-sex couple thinking of having a child.
DVD extras include deleted and bonus scenes, the couple's home movies with their daughter, and a short interview with pioneering gay activist Harry Hay."
Amy Campbell | Massachusetts | 03/11/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Paternal Instinct is a warm, beautiful film that is so incredibly touching. The documentary is just so REAL and emotionally raw, that you can't help but be deeply moved. I highly recommend this film to everyone. Parents should watch it with their children, friends should watch it together, and then speak openly and candidly about how the documentary made them feel, and think. The support network that these two men have, through their own families as well as their extended New York City families is so inspirational. Two men, a warm, beautiful and loving surrogate with a family of her own that supports her completely. It is definitive proof that there is no such thing as a "traditional" family in this day and age. This is a film that breaks down barriers, and it can bring people together. I give Paternal Instinct a thumbs-up, A+++++, a must-see film!! Anyone that does not see this documentary will miss out on a rare opportunity to take an adventure with the people involved. Wonderful film - well done!! I applaud the people behind the cameras as well as those in front of the cameras. *Note* Have a box if tissues nearby when you watch this film, because the tears will flow, I promise!"
Heart warming, uplifiting and brilliantly made
Paul E. Browde | New York | 06/29/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I think the most extraordinary feat of the film Paternal Instinct is that it feels like a fiction film. It is funny, entertaining, heartwarming and mind expanding. However, stop for a moment and wonder how the filmmaker got that close to his subjects, so that they trusted him to be there with their most private and intimate moments. We are fortunate and privileged to be given such a close-up view of peoples' lives, and what extraordinary lives they are!! I love this film. I also think that the additional feature of the interview with Harry Hay, is one of the most important pieces of footage I have seen in years. All people should see this thought provoking, historic and memorable interview. Buy this DVD, it is worth owning!!"
A beatiful film about making a family
T. Saternow | Mansfield, CT, USA | 06/27/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a documentary that doesn't seem like a documentary.
I think the brilliance of this film is the ability of Murray Nossel to tell a beautiful story -- a story that will make you cry. To travel with these two men (plus one witch) on their heartrending many year path to having a baby is a trip into the most private and sacred of one's life. So many feelings happened to me as I watched -- laughter, sadness, hope, great relief (and a final surprise).
I also loved watching the acceptance and pride of Mark and Eric's extended families toward this quest for this new life. I think this is a perfect film for every father in every family."
Lilian | New York, New York United States | 04/28/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Bravo - for broaching a sensitive and moving topic - that has been beautifully portrayed."