NewFest 2005 has been filled with surprises, and I’ve been
    impressed with the quality of films included. I’ve been covering this
    festival for the last five or six years, and I have to say that this year’s
    lineup has to rank as the best I’ve seen. The bar was set pretty high by
LOGGERHEADS, the opening night film from Tim Kirkman and
    continued with
MY SUMMER OF LOVE, one of the festival’s
    centerpieces. It would be hard, in my opinion, to find a nonfiction film
    that can top the superlative
LITTLE MAN, directed by Nicole Conn.

            When I first heard about the film and its subject matter – a lesbian
    couple coping with the birth of a premature child – I wasn’t quite sure
    what to expect, especially since the director turned out to be the one
    donating the eggs. On paper, there was the potential for the film to be
    cloying or self-congratulatory, but in a feat of pure alchemy
turned out to be amazingly honest and truly moving. I would
    challenge any viewer who emerged from the film dry-eyed as lacking a
    heart and a brain.

            Conn and her partner Gwen Baba already had a daughter,
    Gabrielle, whom Baba carried and delivered. Both wanted another child,
    this time, Conn’s biological child. Since neither was in a position to
    actually carry a child, the couple opted to go the surrogate route. After
    a search, they found an appropriate donor and Conn’s eggs were
    fertilized and implanted in the woman. Once the woman was carrying the
    child, though, the truth began to emerge. She had misrepresented
    herself. Yes, she had children of her own, but she wasn’t in the best of
    shape and her lies severely compromised the pregnancy and the health
    of Conn’s son. In fact, Baba and Conn had to face a dilemma that no
    parent should have to – whether to abort the child or deliver him

            Nicholas Joseph Conn-Baba was born 100 days before term and
    had a .0004 percent chance of survival. Despite these odds, Conn could
    not and would not let him go. She sensed his spirit and will to live and she
    fought for her son’s survival in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).
    The film details the painful toll Nicholas’ birth took on Conn and her
    relationship with Baba. Several doctors and nurses interviewed
    constantly say that the birth of a premature child, particularly one with
    special needs, often result in the breakup of a family.

            LITTLE MAN delves into deep issues, posing questions like when
    does caring become cruelty, and what is the cost to the child? These are
    not facile issues and Conn, to her credit, doesn’t shy away from showing
    some of the darker moments. But she also shares the joy that Nicholas
    clearly brings to her life and one cannot help but be moved by this
    intensely personal journal.
LITTLE MAN was one of the highlights of
    NewFest 2005.

                                               Rating:                 A
Copyright 2005 by C.E. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.
little man