By Allie Humenuk and Amy Geller
Who, among us, can say that we come from a “normal” family? THE GUYS NEXT DOOR, a feature length documentary, offers an alternative to the traditional ideas of what constitute the nuclear American family. Meet Erik and Sandro, a gay couple with two daughters birthed by their friend Rachel with donor eggs. In her 40s, Rachel is married to Tony and they have three biological children of their own.
Rachel and Tony, a seemingly traditional married couple, live in the suburbs of Massachusetts with their children. Inspired by a TV program about the difficulties and costs associated with gay couples having children, Rachel, age 41, volunteers to be a surrogate – not once, but twice within two years – for Erik, her good friend from college, and his husband Sandro, an Italian émigré.
This film begins when Rachel is eight months pregnant with Erik and Sandro’s second daughter, Eleonora. What compels a woman in her forties with three children of her own to carry children for friends? What is the reaction of her husband and children? And, how will Erik and Sandro handle the challenges of parenting two girls in a world that still emphasizes the importance of maternal instinct?
The issues raised in this film – gay marriage and parenting, surrogacy as a path for having children, and the extension and redefinition of what it means to be “an American family” – are particularly relevant in today’s socio/political climate where we are witnessing new threats to the civil liberties of LGBTQ community. The power of THE GUYS NEXT DOOR is the way it demonstrates our shared humanity. In the words of the esteemed documentary filmmaker Ross McElwee (Sherman’s March), “with nuance, verve and humor, this film goes well beyond issues of surrogacy and gay parenthood and explores the humanity that connects us all.”
AMY GELLER, Director/Producer/Sound Recordist. Amy Geller has been producer and line producer on numerous commercials, shorts and documentaries, including the PBS/BBC broadcast docudrama “Murder at Harvard.” She also produced the Sundance Institute-supported narrative “Stay Until Tomorrow”, “The War That Made America,” a four-hour PBS mini-series broadcast in 2006, and “Love and Other Anxieties”, a personal documentary directed by funder-turned-filmmaker Lyda Kuth. Geller’s most ambitious production to date, the feature documentary “For the Love of Movies: The Story of American Film Criticism,” has screened at over 80 film festivals, theaters, and universities in the US and abroad. It was broadcast internationally in Spain, France, Israel, and Japan and nationally on the Documentary Channel and WGBH-Boston. She has taught classes at Boston University and Emerson College. Most recently, Geller served as the Artistic Director of the Boston Jewish Film Festival.
ALLIE HUMENUK, Director/Producer/Director of Photography. Allie Humenuk is an award-winning filmmaker and Emmy nominated cinematographer whose films have been broadcast nationally and internationally and screened at film festivals, museums and schools. Her feature documentary, “Shadow of the House,” about the photographer Abelardo Morell was heralded as “one of the best films ever made on a artist and the artistic process” by Bo Smith, former curator of the film program at the MFA Boston. She was nominated for an Emmy for her camera work on the PBS series “Design Squad.” For over 15 years Allie was the Executive Producer at Vida Health Communications where she created media about public health issues. She has taught film and video production at Harvard University and the Massachusetts College of Art. Currently, she freelances as a Director, Cinematographer and Editor.