DOCUMENTARY FILMS TO WATCH 2019- Three Identical Strangers

Set in the 1980’s, Three Identical Strangers tells the astonishing story of three men who make a chance discovery at the age of 19—They are identical triplets, separated at birth and adopted by different Jewish families in the United States.

When I sat down to watch this film, what I was curious to know was so how they found each other and what happened to them during the 19-year gap. Instead, what unfolded in this 96-minute film is so unbelievably shocking, it makes this film one of the most impressive examples of investigative journalism I have ever seen.

The trio’s joyous reunion in 1980 instantly catapults them to fame with appearances on American TV shows like Good Morning America, Today and Donohue. The media could not get enough of them and they became regulars on the club scene in New York.  They even made it into Madonna’s movie Desperately Seeking Susan and the sitcom Cheers.

They were charming and funny and discovered they had many similarities – they loved Italian food, smoked the same brand of cigarettes and were all attracted to older women. By their mid-twenties, the three of them had opened a steakhouse in New York called, Triplets. As time went on, they begin to look into their past to figure out the reason why they had no idea they were triplets for 19 years and while on this path, they uncover a dark secret.

Back in the 1980’s, they were the ideal subjects for a documentary and plans were already set in motion for a film about their lives, but, the film was never completed. Four decades later, a documentary about the triplets has been released, and “it’s much, much darker than the original documentary would have been”.

I am reluctant to spell out the “dark secret” in this article because it is secret that might one-day answer key questions at the heart of all human behaviour: “nature versus nurture”. However, I can say this much; what the film reveals is terrifying, gut wrenching and extremely sad.

Three Identical Strangers is a must watch directed by Tim Wardle, produced by CNN Films and Raw TV, and stars the triplets: Edward Galland, David Kellman and Robert Shafran. They were originally quadruplets but the fourth brother died at birth. They were born 12th July 1961 to an unmarried Jewish mother and given up for adoption as six-month-old infants to three separate Jewish families of different social backgrounds. The documentary premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival where it won the US Documentary Special Jury Award for Storytelling.