Sundance 2021: “Seeds of Deceit”

Rating: 4 out of 5.

It’s absolutely horrifying to think that a doctor who we trust with our health and body can defraud us one way or another. Especially couples who are so eager to have a child, that they would do anything to hold one in their arms. But what happens if the doctor who’s supposed to help you get pregnant secretly uses his own semen instead and only to find out years later, you were not the only one?

“Seeds of Deceit” is a creepy story of a world-renowned fertility doctor in the Netherlands, the late Dr Karbaat, who, without his patient’s knowledge, impregnated them with his own semen. The number of patients was not just one or two, but over seven or eight dozens, and while the number of children is yet to be confirmed, it is believed to be more than forty. The film questions not only the consequences of the sperm donor but its immortality, the genes the parent can pass to his children, and what kind of personality they can inherit from the man whose entire goal was to deceive people.

From writer/director Miriam Guttmann, “Seeds of Deceit” offers a creepy story of the “Karbaat children” and how some of them are happy having him as a father. It reveals a shocking detail of how Dr Karbaat treated his patients back in the 70s and 80s and his methods which, if they were applied now, would cause him not just to lose his licence but freedom too. Through the dozens of interviews and the appearance of his children in the documentary, it showcases the contrasting aftermath of Karbaat’s fraudulent act which, willingly or not, made him almost immortal. As we learn about his personality, the film helps you understand more about his true intentions and why money was one of the main reasons. However, while he is mostly being presented as a monster, it shows his other side of being a kind, humble and loving father he was to his own children.

“Seeds of Deceit” is a documentary you can watch without being disgusted. There is simply no other way to process everything put right before your eyes. The miniseries is so powerful and straightforward, it does not sugar-coat anything. It forces you to face the reality which is harsh enough to even believe it happened in real life. Sadly, it puts a seed of doubt on fertility clinics, in which it might take time to regain trust back.

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