Is there really such a thing as a coincidence? Or is there something in life, working behind the scenes to bring every story together?
I did not set out to answer this question. I just followed my fascination with a strange and beautiful story from China, about twin sisters surprisingly reunited by a red dress.
Sometimes life can create stories, that hardly any Hollywood scriptwriter could come up with. Four years ago, I heard about one that never stopped fascinating me. Eventually it became my documentary film Twin Sisters, which is being broadcast on TV-stations around the world.
In 2003, two babies were found in a cardboard box in a Chinese village, then separated and adopted to two different corners of the world. One of them went to a tiny village set in the dramatic landscape of western Norway. The other went to a major city in California. Their adoptive parents were never told that they were adopting twins, but an incredible incident changes everything.
The drama unfolds the day after the adoption. Still having no idea, the Norwegian mother put on her little baby her first dress, a dress she had brought from back home. So does the American mom, in their hotel.
They both leave their hotels, to finish some paper work at the adoption center. The American mom is walking around holding her newly adopted daughter, when something catches her attention... A baby with the same red dress!
She walks over to the Norwegian mother. But not only the dresses are alike, so are the girls. They compare the birth dates and discover they're the same. They ask the orphanage director if the girls are twins, but they say no.
-Don't make a fuss now, go back to your hotel...
The two girls get two very different lives, on each side of the planet.
The film recently aired on PBS' Independent Lens, bringing attention to a story that some TV buyers called too good to be true. When I pitched the story to a panel, I remember a commissioning editor saying out loud:
- If you were a scriptwriter and went to Hollywood with this amazing story. Do you know what they would have said? That it's over the top. People won't buy into that. They would turn their back to it.
But there was still another twist to the story that life itself insisted on being told. On the day the sisters were reunited in Norway, eight years after their adoption, the weather was terrible. The mountains and fjords were covered in mist and heavy rain. There was no visibility at all. The local airport had to close. We were all worried that the weather would ruin this incredible day. The American family was stranded at another airport.
But suddenly something magical happens- The rain, mist and clouds dissolved, swept away. The American family's plane is the first to land. Alexandra, the Norwegian twin, puts on her summer dress, just like she had planned to do, and runs into her sister's arms.
This is a moment I will never forget. Ever. In my whole life. I was in tears as I watched. This is the magic of life. It was like the sisters were blessed.
People have received the film so warmly, and I'm honored to be a part of it all. Some people cry, some laugh. Some say they feel elevated and want to go out there and do good things for their loved ones. Some say they watch the heart-warming story over and over again. Some say the story is proof of divine intervention.
Somehow, it feels like film has its own mission, taking on its own life in a way, and it's brought the sisters together on several occasions, on national TV award shows and talk shows.
In the film Twin Sisters, the parents reflect on the game of fate. The American dad says: Something brought us together. This is fate. It just had to happen.
Does this mean that my film and I, was part of the plan as well?