Donor Unknown is the recent winner of the Tribeca Film Festival Online Award and is a new feature documentary directed by Jerry Rothwell and produced by Al Morrow & Hilary Durman.

For the first time in history a generation of children born through sperm donor conception are old enough to search for their biological fathers. For some it will prove to be a fruitless journey but the offspring of Donor 150 have a father who is willing and ready to be found.

JoEllen always knew ‘my family wasn’t like other families’. She grew up with two mothers and a burning curiosity about her biological father. All she knows about him is the donor profile, Number 150, which inspired her mothers to choose his sperm.

Through an internet registry, JoEllen meets one of her half-sisters, and when the New York Times picks up the story, more half-siblings emerge across America. Then in the most serendipitous way a discarded copy of that article falls into the hands of Jeffrey, a self-confessed ‘fringe monkey’ and drop-out, who lives with four dogs and a pigeon in a broken-down RV in a Venice Beach car park. Two decades earlier he paid his rent over 8 years by supplying a Los Angeles sperm bank three times a week, as Donor 150.

Told with great honesty and humour, and interspersed with scenes from the California Cryobank and its slightly creepy founder, Cappy Rothman, proudly showing off the masturbatoriums and the giant vats storing the neatly labeled results, the inevitable meeting of biological father with some of his children raises puzzling questions about our definitions and understanding of parenthood, and the strange power of the genetic imperative. Not to mention lots of questions about the power of nurture over nature and who is really is poorer – the man living a life entirely of his own making albeit in abject poverty in an RV or the fool working all hours of the day in order to maintain a house he really only has time to sleep in?

This film is a total marvel, charming, thought provoking and engaging.

Cinema release 3rd June
More4 screening 28th June
DVD release 4th July


California Cryobank, Jerry Rothwell,