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The Lost Sons directed by Ursula Macfarlane
The Lost Sons directed by Ursula Macfarlane (Credit: Giulio Biccari)

Following its premiere earlier this year at the 2021 SXSW Film Festival, the documentary The Lost Sons premieres on Sunday, September 26, 2021, on CNN.

Directed by award-winning filmmaker, Ursula Macfarlane (Untouchable; Charlie Hebdo: Three Days That Shook Paris), the documentary feature explores the mystery of the identity of Paul Fronczak. Kidnapped from a Chicago hospital shortly after his birth in 1964, Fronczak was found nearly two years later in New Jersey and believed to have been returned to his relieved family. Told from Fronczak’s point of view and narrated by him, the story takes viewers along with Fronczak for his emotionally intimate search for answers about what happened to him, questions about his true identity, and who his family is.

“It’s a gripping family detective odyssey which I hope will have audiences on the edge of their seats, as Paul starts to unravel the mystery of his early years. At a time where our world has been turned upside down, I hope people will be drawn to an intimate story that’s about the fundamental questions that drive us: where we come from, and who we really are,” said the film’s director, Macfarlane.

Macfarlane shapes the narrative of her film by following Fronczak as he travels across America, retracing pivotal moments of his early life, beginning with his initial discovery of his kidnapping. The film re-examines the investigation through a mix of contemporary archival news coverage and cinema verité footage of Fronczak speaking to witnesses of his kidnapping and return. Macfarlane also interviews eyewitnesses to the story, including Fronczak’s family. Later, as the twists and turns uncover layers of Fronczak’s complicated biography, Macfarlane explores the impact the early months of Fronczak’s life have had upon his life’s ambitions and relationships. As the story unfolds, she invites viewers to decide what defines a family.

“My story is about solving a basic mystery of identity, the puzzle of all human life: what is it that makes us, us?” says Fronczak. “What I discovered is that the truth can sometimes be devastating, but living a lie isn’t living at all.”

Watch the trailer for The Lost Sons

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