Film “Starbuck” Earning Raves

A recent French Canadian film, Starbuck, has been garnering awards, including the People’s Choice Award at the Calgary International Film Festival and the Palm Springs International Film Festival’s audience award for the festival’s best narrative feature. Click on the photo below or here for a subtitled trailer.

The comedy begins with 42-year-old David Wosniak, a grossly in-debt man child, as his girlfriend announces that she is unexpectedly pregnant and he is being sued in a class action lawsuit by 142 of the 533 children born from the sperm he donated 20 years earlier. The children in the suit want to know the identity of their biological father, known only by the pseudonym Starbuck.

David decides to find and spy on some of his children, now in their early 20’s, as they stumble through their hilariously odd lives, getting hopelessly sucked in along the way.

The film takes the premise to the extreme for the sake of comedy, but are the film makers also calling for tighter regulation and ethics considerations with their humor? Although there are currently no international regulations on the number of offspring that can be sired by any one donor, many sperm banks follow a self-imposed (and policed) limit on the number of samples sold to the public. To date, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, who gathers and reports U.S. fertility statistics, does not track the number of offspring born from donor sperm. Sperm banks in the U.S. may or may not collect this information, but they are not required to report it to any agency.

The sperm bank we used in California offers a sibling registry to connect families that have used the same donor, but participation in the registry and reporting of offspring produced is voluntary. When we chose our donor from their list, we did not know how many offspring had been produced from that donor, but only whether or not other children had been conceived. At the time, we thought of the existence of half-siblings as a positive because that meant the sperm we were buying was viable and might give us good results, but it never occurred to us to be nervous about exactly how many half-siblings were out there.

I especially enjoyed this article, by Chris Knight of Canada’s The National Post, which compares the film’s main character to his nick-namesake, the famous bull, Starbuck, who sired more than 200,000 female Holsteins in a 19-year period, and was later cloned to continue the legacy.

Only time will tell whether this film will make it to my hometown for viewing, and whether the issue it raises will spur national and/or international regulation, but earning these awards, and thus expanding the film’s distribution and audience, will certainly up the odds. Let’s hope that talks of an English-language version of the film pan out.

One response to “Film “Starbuck” Earning Raves

  1. The article I wrote for Wendy who runs the DSR describes the ASRM change in policy when it became possible to freeze and bank semen and now eggs. It was ten kids then it became 25 in a population of 800,000. Well do the math. If you live in a city with 800,000 people then 25 would be the result. However notice that thee formula does not say what the population of 800,000 is bordered by. Semen and eggs are shipped all over the world so if you apply the formula to the world population the limit is over 200,000 childrem increasing every day that the population of the world or area grows. So you can see that the cryobaanks prefer this formula because it implies 25 without limiting them at all in the number of children given away per donor. They won’t bother to invest money in a man or woman unless they believe that they can sell at least 100 of a persons kids in five years which would allow them to recoup their initial investment and then a profit. Granted we probably won’t get to 200,00) in a lifetime but its reasonable for anyone who had children with a man working for a cryo bank to expect that their offspring will have at least 100 siblings who bare in thwbsame age group. It would be the rare gamete donor who has less than that many kids simply because they would not be making any money and would not be worth the storage and marketing fees.

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