His friend kept shaking the newspaper, up and down. David still did not believe it. "It's you!" He insisted. The article did not offer much information, but the photo was enough. There were two hugged, smiling and absolutely identical guys. Not only among them: they were also the same as David. "It was impossible," he recalls over the phone. Where had those Robert and Eddy come from? And why did they look so much like him? Finally, David got the number of Eddy's mother and called. Soon after, I was on the road. He had lived for 19 years without knowing anything about his two triplet brothers. Not even that they existed.
The other two, as the documentary shows Three identical strangers, They had taken the surprise shortly before. It was destiny or chance that, in 1980, Robert Shafran went to the University of Sullivan, in New York. He stepped on it for the first time, but it received a warm welcome. They smiled at him, greeted him, asked him how the holidays were. Although the weirdest thing is that they called him "Eddy". The mystery was revealed and Robert sat, basically, in front of the mirror. "His eyes were my eyes," he recalls of the encounter. They shared too much for two strangers: face, date and place of birth – July 12, 1961, at a Long Island hospital – or the fact of being adopted. The enthusiasm came, the interviews. And David. "From amazing, happened to incredible," says the editor of a local newspaper in the film.
"I'm dedicated to selecting ideas for a production company. You end up getting hard, you think often: 'This I've already seen'. But when they told me I knew that this was the best story I had heard, "says the director of the documentary, Tim Wardle. At first, he suspected that his collaborator exaggerated. Now, after a lustrum and a movie, which opens today in Spain, he thinks that maybe it fell short. "I decided to tell it from the perspective of the triplets, and that the viewer was knowing the information at the same rate they discovered it," explains Wardle. Because the reunion was just the beginning of a story full of madness, happiness and drama, where rage is mixed, experiments with Nazi echoes, ethical debates and censored reports. As absurd as it may be, "It's 100% real." Word of Shafran. And hundreds of documents.
"It seems like a Disney story", a reporter releases in the documentary. "It's much darker," corrects one of those involved. Indeed, in the first half of the film, as in the life of the triplets, euphoria reigns: they became stars, moved together and even opened a restaurant, Triplets. They went on television moving at the same time, completing one the other's sentences and stressing that they loved Marlboro, wrestling or women themselves. They even starred in a cameo Looking for Susan desperately, next to Madonna. Until the differences also emerged. And, with them, the shadows.
The story of Three identical strangers has attracted cinema, literature and journalism, since Lawrence Wright (who appears in the documentary) opened the ban in 1995, in The New Yorker After his film, Tim Wardle is now also executive producer of a fiction version that will be shot in Hollywood, with "a great screenwriter", according to him, and the consent of the triplets. "In a documentary, what you say remains. In this case, our control is limited to choosing the appropriate people. But we do not know who will star in it or how it will be told, "explains David Kellman.
In the United States, the story is known. In the rest of the world, Wardle recommends approaching her from ignorance. Suffice it to say that the adoption agency, Louise Wise Services, purposely separated the boys and also omitted their new parents. Peter B. Neubauer, a scientist already deceased, carried from the shadows the reins of the project, in search of a response to the eternal dilemma about the influence of DNA and education on human development.
For all this, the documentary met with great resistance. "They did not trust, they were hostile," recalls Wardle. "Of course, we do not launch into it. We had not talked to each other for a long time either. And we did not know what they wanted to do, "explains David Kellman. For four years, not a minute of footage was filmed. Only calls, production flights (British) to the US and meetings. "We did not want them to exploit the story or treat it with sensationalism. It has enough of joy and tragedy. We needed to trust us, "says Shafran.
For Wardle, it was one of the great difficulties. "I was wondering why nobody had filmed this story. And I discovered that they had tried, up to three times. In the nineties, they came to finish it. But, suddenly, they were forced to withdraw it, "he says about the other problem. For some, forgetting was better. Three identical strangers suffered in his skin the sudden disappearance of some funder, while Wardle had to insist: "The investors asked me how the film would end. I did not know it. "
The truth is that the story is not over yet. The film premiered at Sundance in 2018, fell one step behind the Oscars and on Sunday opts for the Bafta. But, meanwhile, the triplets have finally been able to access secret material about their childhood. And the case is still open. The twins Michele Mordkoff and Allison Kanter have met in the wake of the film. "We have been contacted by another couple. And we believe that there are at least 23 affected, "says Wardle. Maybe some are already looking.