After spending the first six years of his life in Romania's notoriously abusive orphanages of the 1980's and 90's, a young boy searches from something to drive him in his new world.
Bunee: The Boy From Constanta is the kind of film that can go incredibly right or it can go incredibly wrong. Conceived and directed by the subject of the film, Bunee Tomlinson was adopted by American couple Tommy and Susan Tomlinson, whose unassuming presence and matter-of-factness radiate throughout this film's nearly 15-minute running time and seem to have taken a heavily traumatized young boy and created a world where he can survive and even thrive.
While some may argue the film occasionally crosses the line in terms of emotional manipulation, the truth is that it's a balanced and authentic self-portrait that never, rather surprisingly, tugs on the heartstrings as much as the story actually could. Tomlinson's story is particularly meaningful, I believe, for those who've experienced similar traumas and for those singles, couples and families who've devoted themselves to raising society's most vulnerable children. Bunee: The Boy From Constanta doesn't dwell on the past, but neither does it completely ignore it. This is particularly true during a family visit to Romania when the now vacant orphanage is visited and Bunee's memories seem to gain clarity.
Artistic expression has been an aid to Bunee, a not particularly surprising thing for those of us who've used the arts to heal our own lives, though it's nothing short of remarkable to watch him with his parents as the young man undeniably understands just how much they've given him and, in turn, they seemingly marvel at this young man.
Bunee: The Boy From Constanta is constructed through live interviews, photos, archival footage (mostly family) and video footage that seems to, for lack of a better way to say it, powerfully document a journey from despair to hope. The film will be screening this coming weekend as part of the Seattle Shorts FIlm Festival in the Raising Awareness Block at 12:30pm at the SIFF Film Center on Sunday, November 13th. For more information on the festival, visit the Seattle Shorts website.