NEW YORK – The first time the brothers David Kellman, Bobby Shafran and Eddy Galland were in public, it was happy. The then-19-year-old identical triplets, who were separated at birth, had just learned of the existence of others.
Despite being raised separately, the three generous, curly children smoked the same cigarettes and finished their sentences. They appeared in shows such as Phil Donahue, became tabloid regulars in the early '80s, and made "Desperately Seeking Susan" with Madonna in 1
"We were sort of falling in love," Kellman recalls in the new documentary "Three Identical Strangers."
The second go-around was more complicated. Galland killed himself in 1995. And the disturbing reasons for their separation came only after this first appearance of reunification. "Three Identical Strangers," directed by British filmmaker Tim Wardle, is the story behind her story, one of the most troubling cases of separation at birth.
Since its debut at the Sundance Film Festival, the film – a real roller coaster ride into a dark and twisted storyline – has both amazed and upset moviegoers alike. It has again put pressure on a prominent child development center to make the study transparent. And it has brought the rest of the brothers under much less formal circumstances into the limelight.
"When we walked through the limelight before it was solemn, it was fun," said Kellman, now 57, in an interview. Yes, but it also causes a lot of pain.
"It really did see me in the theater," he added, "I cried like a baby."
"Three Identical Strangers, which will hit the cinemas on Friday, is about a much-documented case that has largely disappeared from public memory, after the triplets had found each other in 1980 (surprisingly, Shafran came to a New York community college just to find out that all knew him already and believed that he was already enrolled Galland) followed another discovery.
born in 1961, was taken by the now deceased Louise Wise Agency into three families – an upper class, a middle, a working family – Housed as part of a study on nature versus education through the Child Development Center, the center would later partner with the Jewish Board of Family and Children's Services United, a large, 140-year-old New York nonprofit organization.
The study – which included an unknown number of twins – was conducted in the 1960s and 1970s. Peter Neubauer, a prominent, born in Austria psychologist, who died in 2008. Without the knowledge of the children or their parents, researchers have studied the development of children until the appearance of the triplets on television.
"I do not know what these people will do, if anything, I just know what they did wrong," Shafran said. "You can blame people who are no longer alive, but it is an institution, a continuing institution, and the entire study should be accessible only to beginners."
The study's files, which are kept at Yale University, will be opened in 2066. Some heavily edited research was shared by the Jewish Executive with Kellman and Shafran, but only in the last days of post production on "Three Identical Strangers" after months of use by the filmmakers and the family. "It pulled teeth to get each side," said Kellman.
"You would not talk to us during the movie," Wardle said. "They would only work with us through a PR crisis management firm they hired, and they would only contact the brothers through a lawyer for medical liability." I would say that the Jewish Council was extremely unhelpful.
A spokesman for the Jewish Council declined to explicitly address these allegations or to answer questions regarding the publication of the study. It responded with a statement to the Associated Press.
"We do not support the Neubauer study, and we very much regret that it happened," the statement said. "We recognize the great courage of the people who participated in the film, and we are grateful that this film has created an opportunity for a public discourse on study."
Several other twins involved in the study have also found themselves, including Elyse Schein and Paula Bernstein, who wrote memoirs in 2007, and Doug Rausch and Howard Burack, who published "20/20" in March.
"Most of the people I talked to were involved in the study just to know: was anything learned?" Said Wardle. "Me and my producer sometimes did an interview." Oh my God! This story is incredible! I can not believe it! And then you would think later: Actually, these were the lives of these guys. We have to remember that this was not just a great story. That's what these guys went through.
Shafran, a Brooklyn lawyer who has two children with his 30-year-old wife, criticizes the Jewish board for "keeping everything secret." But he has little hope that they can do something catharsis for him Her story was first told in 1995 in a New York piece about Twins by Lawrence Wright, who made a book of it, but apart from another documentary last year, "The Twinning Reaction," the brothers had withdrawn, to speak publicly, they said.
"We have not done anything since the lights went out. We have not done anything since Eddy passed away, "said Shafran.
But" Three Identical Strangers "was an unexpectedly rewarding process for the brothers, as Shafran recalls how, after his bizarre journey, he remembers the gasping faces of a Sundance crowd The brothers were not very close at the time of filming, but the film helped repair their relationship.
"You do not get along with your siblings as often as you like. It's just life, "said Kellman, who works in the insurance industry and lives in New Jersey. Kellman, whose children are as old as Shafran, said he was divorcing.
And they are both Impressed by Wardle's film as well as his sensitivity throughout the film process, they prefer their experience as documentary subjects to the "lab rats."
But ask them for their own conclusions about what their story in relation to nature means against education and they are at a loss.
"It's very difficult for me to see this film objectively," says Kellman, "to get into the nuances between the brothers as individuals, one would have to make a much longer film, a movie nobody would go through. Because it is our life. "