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SXSW 2021: “The Lost Sons”


Rating: 4 out of 5.

There is no bigger moment than the birth of a child. The newborn brought to life should be cherished and celebrated. It seems nothing could stop life from being happily ever after, except for one event, the worst nightmare of any parent – the kidnapping of the child.

It’s April 26th, 1964. Dora Fronczak and her husband are ecstatic about the birth of their son. The mother holds her son in her arms dearly as she enjoys every moment of his presence in her life, not realizing it will be the last day they will ever share. The next day, a woman dressed as a nurse comes to Dora’s room to take the child for a routine examination. The woman, sadly, never returns.

After the big news of the kidnapping of a newborn baby, few years later FBI brings a child, saying it is the one that was taken away from Dora. But is Paul, the little boy returned, her lost son? “The Lost Sons” is an exceptionally detailed and intelligent documentary film from director Ursula MacFarlane that offers a strange but fascinating story of Paul Fronczak, who, on his 10th birthday, finds out he was kidnapped a day after he was born.

Despite his parents insisting that he forgets it and moves on, Paul never gives up the thought of having been kidnapped, which will lead him towards a shocking thought that he might not be the real Paul. And if he is not, then who is he? And what happened to the real Paul? The question is, is he still alive?

A story like in “The Lost Sons” is meant to be written by Hollywood’s most talented minds, yet it happened in real life. Structurally engaging and, at times, entertaining, the film is a difficult journey to make. Especially when the biggest shock is revealed, it’s hard to swallow without a big glass of water. It’s shocking, surreal and terrifying to know there are people who someday wake up to find out they are not who they think they are. And people they call mom and dad are not their true parents.

As it is hard to imagine how difficult it must be to live with such a burden, the film delivers Paul Fronczak’s pain, determination and willingness to continue the search for his true identity. Even though, in the end, he will be left with a big puzzle to solve, he embarks himself on the never-ending journey that may not provide him with proper closure. And that feeling itself is the definition of “The Lost Sons” and its sad consequence, which people like Paul must live with until their last breath.

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