JFI in Conversation with Filmmaker in Residence Meika Rouda

November 17, 2014

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Filmmaker Meika Rouda

My Peeps Are Whiteys is an exploration of identity and how we become who we are. Meika Rouda was adopted as a newborn and never knew her biological background until she was in her thirties and trying to make a family of her own. Because she has exotic looks, she often had people tell her what ethnicity they thought she might be, and in turn sometimes took on those identities to see if they fit. After learning of her ethnic background she came to realize that who she identified with was her Jewish adoptive parents more than her biological family’s ethnic make up. Her search engages audiences to consider how they view their own identity and what makes you, you.

What phase is your project in, and what activities will you be engaged in at Ninth Street?

I am currently in pre-production. The script, based on a personal essay I published on Fresh Yarn and in the magazine Underwire is complete and the narration ready to be recorded. The visual content will be comprised largely of found footage and collage in the style of [SFJFF Programmer and filmmaker] Jay Rosenblatt and Adam Curtis whose work I deeply admire.

What do you intend to accomplish during your time in the program?

I intend to record the narration, research images and assemble the final cut of the film.

How will this project impact your short and long term professional/artistic goals?

After many years working as a producer, I am interested in returning to making films that provoke people to question their ideals. As an adoptee, I have been searching for my identity for most of my life and now that I have two adopted children I am fascinated by how their identities will be shaped, how much DNA matters and what choices they will make about their birth families. I would like to engage audiences to discuss what forms a person, to what level life events, DNA and personality collide to create character. I think the search for self can be a lifelong journey, especially for adoptees like me who choose to not reunite with their birth families.

This short film is the first of a multi tiered adoption project that I am embarking on. Besides the film, I am writing a memoir about being an adoptee with adopted children. In addition I am researching the effects of modern reproductive technologies on society and whether the notorious Primal Wound is found in children born of surrogates or children born using donor eggs and sperm. This research is the basis for my next project, a feature documentary on the ethnics of reproductive technology and how families are being made both naturally and artificially.

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