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Andrew Solomon’s “Far From The Tree” Finds A New Life On The Big Screen

A still from the new film, “Far from the Tree”

Four years after Andrew Solomon took home the 2013 Anisfield-Wolf nonfiction prize for “Far from the Tree,” his work is finding a new medium: film. 

Next month, the documentary version from Emmy award-winning filmmaker Rachel Dretzin will premiere at DOC NYC, the nation’s largest documentary-focused film festival. The response has been strong enough to add a second showing.

The 90-minute film, also called “Far From the Tree,” uses the same scaffolding as the book, embedding viewers in the lives of parents whose children fit into disparate identities: deafness, autism, and dwarfism, along with seven others. 

“All parenting turns on a crucial question: to what extent parents should accept their children for who they are, and to what extent they should help them become their best selves,” writes Solomon in his text. Dretzin pulls on that thread in the documentary, weaving together interviews and on-the-ground footage. Snippets of the production show the film crew attending the annual Little People of America conference and accompanying one of the featured couples to an ultrasound appointment. 

Solomon, who also served as a producer on the film, will attend the premiere, along with Dretzin and producer Jamila Ephron. In 2013, as Solomon, a gay man, accepted his Anisfield-Wolf distinction in Cleveland, he said, “This award is particularly meaningful to me because it is an award that is predicated on the question of identity . . . I feel that it was identity politics that rescued me from an element of despair that was present in my earlier life.”

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