SXSW Film '10 — Google Baby

Google Baby is a hard movie to watch.

Not because the film is poorly made — it is a well-crafted and engaging documentary about surrogate mothers in India. The film is hard to stomach because of the sometimes shocking, always questionable actions carried out by the film’s subjects.

Doron is an Israeli businessman with an idea for revolutionizing a relatively new procedure. After he receives his own child via an American-based surrogate mother, Doron brainstorms a way he can improve on the service — specifically in cutting costs. His idea? Outsourcing the surrogacy to India, a country known for its cheap labor.

A baby producer by trade, Doron harvests eggs from the more desirable mothers of America, mixes them with provided sperm and implants the baby-in-the-making into an Indian woman who, desperate for cash and with limited options, volunteers her womb.

An online business, the entire process can be undergone with a few mouse clicks — giving those who desire a child an easy opportunity to custom-create their own. Even Doron questions the way parents are ordering their children with little-to-know interaction with the actual process.

Suitability of parents is not a concern for Doron, though. At one point in the film he gladly discusses details with a 50+-year-old single woman and, when his medical partners discuss with him the idea of implanting two different embryos into two different women to increase the chance of birth, Doron jokes about selective abortion.

Filmmaker Zippi Brand Frank does an amazing job capturing the ins and outs of surrogacy as it grows and evolves in the new online world. Besides following Doron, Frank conducts interviews with the scientists who perform the procedure, the women who donate their eggs and the desperate surrogate mothers who risk death for a chance to earn a relatively small amount of money.

Google Baby may be a hard film to watch because of the subject matter but it is essential viewing nonetheless. As society continues to evolve alongside technology, morals will continue to be tested and lines crossed. Google Baby captures a snapshot in the growing landscape of a technology still trying to find its feet — preserving yet another step on humanity’s path towards damnation.

Category: Festival Favorites

Director: Zippi Brand Frank

Showtimes: Sunday, March 14 at 12 PM at Alamo Ritz and Wednesday, March 17 at 12:00 PM at Alamo Lamar

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The South by Southwest film festival will be held in Austin from March 12 through the 20th. For more information about attending the festival and the films being shown, visit www.sxsw.com/film.