A Cal State Northridge student’s documentary led to the discovery of 10 half-siblings after she discovered she was conceived with a sperm donor.
22-year-old student Sara Sims’ film “#2276” is now a finalist in the prestigious nationwide Student Academy Awards.
“My film #2276 is a story about me and my twin sister Haley, who found out through a parentage test at age 17 that we were donor-conceived,” Sims explained.
Sims set out to make a documentary about her roots, and in the process she learned much more about her story than she could have ever imagined.
It all started with a project pitch for her final thesis last fall.
“My thesis students come on the first day of class and each of them has to present a story, an idea for a documentary that can be produced this semester,” said CSUN Film and TV Arts Professor Judy Korin.
The students then voted on four films to produce that semester, and Sims’ pitch received the most votes from her classmates.
“I think it was really the warmth with which she told her own story,” Korin said of the positive response
“Our parents struggled with infertility for a long time and eventually had to resort to a sperm donor to conceive my sister and me,” Sims said.
After Sims and her sister learned that their father was not their biological parent, they began asking questions.
“I didn’t want you girls to think of me differently, so we kept it that way for quite a long time,” Sara’s father is heard saying in the film. “And if you wait that long, it’ll be harder to tell you because it was a lie and I didn’t want to get caught in a lie.”
Surprised by the revelation, Sims dug deeper.
“When we were 17, we found out we also had about 10 half-siblings in the U.S.,” she said.
She wasn’t alone either. Her half-siblings also looked for answers about their roots. Sims eventually tracked down some of them and interviewed them for her documentary.
“I learned a lot about everyone, including myself,” she said. “A lot of insights and we talk about a lot of our similarities between my half-siblings and I. Some of these only became apparent to me when we all started talking about them unprompted in our own interviews and I realized that we had a lot more in common than I had thought. I also learned a lot about my relationship with my dad and his relationship with my twin, my sister, and I think that helped us bond a little bit.”
The film’s title, “#2276,” was inspired by the number assigned to her biological donor father.
“We value him as much as we value our father,” Sims says in the film. “He’s the one who raised us. It doesn’t matter that we have a biological father. He is our father and that’s all.”
Her film is a reminder that no two families are the same and that family is not defined by genes but is sustained through love and commitment.
Sims’ documentary was so well received that it was named a semifinalist in the Student Oscars by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Sims’ film “#2276” can be viewed in its entirety on YouTube.