Manhattanville Reid Castle In the Spring

First Lady Jean Strauss To Show New Films at Manhattanville College
Tuesday, 08 April 2014 12:52

Jean Strauss, photo courtesy of Laura Watilo Blake CIFFFirst Lady Jean Strauss at the Cleveland International Film Festival, photo courtesy of Laura Watilo Blake CIFF
First Lady of Manhattanville College Jean Strauss will be screening her two newest films, which recently premiered at the Cleveland International Film Festival, on campus.

Strauss, a documentary filmmaker and legislative activist, has been writing and directing films about post adoption issues for the past 25 years. Her award winning first feature film, “For the Life of Me,” first opened viewers’ eyes to the pain and impositions that are caused by sealed adoption records and birth certificates.

The two films Strauss will be showing continue the conversation on adoption law, focusing her narratives on the fight for reversal of closed records and the overwhelming joy when records are finally opened. The feature film “A Simple Piece of Paper” is about Illinois adoptees getting see their birth records for the first time since a bill was passed allowing them to do so in 2011. The film follows more than a dozen adoptees search to find the truth about their origins.

The second film, “An Adoptee ROARed in Ohio,” a brand new short, follows the journey of Betsie Norris, founder of the Adoption Network Cleveland, and her struggle to help unseal her and other adoptees birth records. Coincidentally it was her father, William “Brad” Norris, a prominent attorney, who played a key role in closing adoption records, and now together they have fought to open the records to adoptees.

“It’s an amazing story of two people who Cleveland should be proud of,” said Strauss.

The short film is very timely because in December of 2013 Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed the legislation into law that adoptees will be able to access their original birth certificates starting in March 2015.

 “A Simple Piece of Paper,” is 57 minutes long and “An Adoptee ROARed in Ohio,” runs 15 minutes. The on campus screening will take place Wednesday, April 16 in Pius X Theatre at 5 p.m.