“Ghosts of the Republic” is a fairly straightforward documentary on a far from straightforward subject: international surrogacy. Producer-director Jonathon Narducci (he was also cinematographer) took a warm and engaging, if not always in-depth look at Nicolas and Aurélien, a gay married couple in their early 30s who, because surrogacy is banned in their native France, must travel abroad to realize their dream of fatherhood.
The guys find hope in Las Vegas, where they meet and bond with two nice local women – egg donor candidate Diana and potential surrogate Crystal – who both agree to help Nicolas. and Aurélien to found a family. The film then traces the meticulous steps that each participant must take – medically, physically, emotionally, socially – from conception of the baby to its birth. Prepare to shed a tear or two.
The film, shot between 2014 and 2016, presents the types of bioethics hearings and legal events that have made it possible to prevent children born from international surrogacy from being considered both as French citizens. legal and as the legitimate offspring of their future parents.
This edict, which led these children to be nicknamed “Ghosts of the Republic”, hovers over the heads of Nicolas and Aurélien as they navigate the challenges, the anxieties and the joys of becoming parents through this journey. unconventional. (Although surrogacy remains illegal in France, a 2019 ruling now allows the biological and non-biological parents of a surrogate child born abroad to both appear on the birth certificate.)
Although Nicolas and Aurélien are serious, endearing and attractive, we don’t know them so deeply as an actual couple. What are their exact dynamics? Is there a significant conflict? How was it decided that Aurélien would be the genetic donor? How do property manager Nicolas and flight attendant Aurélien deal with the heavy financial toll of surrogacy? What are their life goals beyond parenthood?
Plus, how does Crystal’s husband, only seen here, really feel about his wife’s role in this arrangement – aside from the large fees that will be paid to her – and its effects on their own young family?
Since “Ghosts” is 80 minutes long, there was room to further explore the many tentacles of the film’s complex and delicate subject matter. Still, it’s vital territory that will open the eyes of less-initiated viewers to the deep engagement and dramatic lengths that many same-sex couples can take to become parents.
“The ghosts of the Republic”
In English and French with English subtitles
Duration of operation: 1 hour 20 minutes.
Playing: Available November 17 in digital and VOD