Jean was adopted in Paraguay in 1987 when he was a few months old. He’s been living in the North of France since then. He’s been thinking since his adolescence to go back to his native country in order to look for his biological mother. After numerous doubts due to his fear that his mother might refuse to see him, Jean finally decided to look for her. Thirty years after his arrival in France, he flies to Asunción with his cousin Louise.
Louise Heem – Writer & Director
In 2013, I offered to accompany Jean in his journey to find his biological mother. I also suggested filming a documentary. Having previously considered documenting this process, he immediately accepted.
We were both aware that filming would ensure he wouldn’t give up on his quest midway and that it would give him another goal to focus on other than finding his mother.
After much hesitation linked to the fear that his mother would refuse to meet him, Jean finally decided to return to Paraguay in 2017.
Before starting the investigation, Jean had no idea his adoption could’ve had irregularities, or that, during the 1990s in Paraguay, there had been an increase in child trafficking linked to adoption.
Other adopted children we met during our investigation were also unaware of the conditions of their abandonment. As surprising as it may seem, some of them never imagined that trafficking was even a possibility, and never went looking for their families.
The film will thus provide testimony to other adoptees who are hesitant to embark on such a journey.
More generally, the intimate nature of the film, its sincerity and the emotions it displays, give the film universal significance.
In a world where walls and borders are increasingly erected, and where migrants are considered and treated as criminals, Jean’s story brings us back to questioning identity and what it means to be away from one’s original home.
In Juan, the importance of human ties, whether of blood or of heart, is particularly emphasized. Jean is my cousin, in his own right, because my uncle and aunt adopted him.
I’m his cousin because he accepted us as his family.
Former language teacher and protection officer in charge of the instruction of asylum requests, Louise Heem has lived in about 50 countries and spent some time as a volunteer in refugee camps.
Quadrilingual interpreter in French, English, Spanish and Italian, she works mainly as a community interpreter, but also in other contexts and during conferences. She is currently learning the Palestinian and Moroccan dialects as well as modern standard Arabic.
She started her career in theatre in 2007 and cinema in 2011. Since then she has been taking part in international productions in France, Germany, Iran and Palestine.
Thanks to her different experiences and knowledge acquired in the field, she tends to gravitate towards projects dealing with totalitarianism, racism, differences, homophobia, separation, family, war and exile.
In 2016, El día de la virgen, her first short-film as scriptwriter and director where she played the main role of Sarah was screened for its Première during Gaza Red Carpet Human Rights Film Festival. The movie was screened in 31 countries and rewarded in 4 festivals.
In 2019, she writes Melchior and participates in the production forum of Berck 15th International Film Festival.
In 2020, she finishes Juan, her first feature documentary shot in France and Paraguay and films Corona Paris/Gaza during the lockdown.